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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Dirt Dogs: Fringe to Center Stage - Web Power Drives Mainstream Media

One of our favorite (and everybody else also!) fan sites, the Boston DirtDogs (BDD), is going mainstream as the site has been acquired by Boston.com (a.k.a. the Boston Globe and the New York Times). See the release (http://www.corporate-ir.net/ireye/ir_site.zhtml?ticker=NYT&script=411&layout=-6&item_id=576159).

As most of you know, the BDD site has been the source of the Extent of Nomar's Sheath Damage controversy percolating about the Boston sports media circle this past week. While it appears that the BDD's may have been a bit out on the edge on that particular report (jury is still out though), there were so many other stories where they scooped the mainstream Boston baseball media types that it was getting embarrassing. Further, BDD had attracted the ire and disdain of the Almighty 'EEI's Ordway and other radio droids, as a lightning rod representing the emergence of the independent Web site as a viable news, interest, and infotainment source for rabid red Sox fans.

The lesson here is simple and compelling: customers (as in readers, listeners, and watchers) will migrate and return to any source that provides the content they want - whether it is American Idol or Boston Dirt Dogs. As a simple illustration, while newspaper circulation has been in steady decline for over 30 years, Boston.com has a tremendous audience, one of the largest in the country for a regional portal. And, 20% of its audience visits there for sports news (yeah they are all there for Babson tennis scores not Red Sox updates!). BDD offered a lively look at the Red Sox scene, one that was not afraid to critisize or lampoon Sox management, any player - or anyone else for that matter. It was, as they say in the media trade, "edgy" or sharply written and definitely not bland. Wake up call Boston Sports guys - bland is OUT!

Boston.com plans to incorporate BDD's content into it's own web pages, a move that is effectively legitimizing the BDD approach to Sox coverage, and one that makes it much harder for the mainstream press to dismiss other Web sources as insignificant or dumb. We hope BDD won't change - it is too much fun and, almost always, right on.