There are interesting lessons (or reminders) falling out this WSJ.com story about HoopsHype, a basketball website that appears to have great influence in one of the US’s major sports.
– It’s unashamedly hardcore; there appears to be no attempt to explain basketball or soften the editorial for a broad audience. It’s content for a narrow niche. As a consequence, a narrow hardcore niche of people – people in the game itself – find it useful, and give it great respect.
– It’s run from Spain, giving it a big advantage over US-based rivals because of the time difference.
– Nobody cares it’s run from Spain, because of the nature of their work – a little original reporting but mainly, it seems, aggregation and community.
– It’s run by only three people.
– The site is (relatively) small – it’s got barely 3% of NBA.com’s traffic, according to Compare.com. But it’s growing fast, while NBA.com is showing signs of stagnation, year on year.
– It’s profitable.
It’s a story that sums up what many of us have been talking about for years; as the barriers of geography and technical knowledge are brought down by broadband and easy-to-use content management systems, the battle moves to content.
Pick a niche, super-serve it, and the Google will find you, and the users will come. Google, and the users, don’t care who or where you are – just that what you’re offering is what they’re looking for.
And, as it always has, that raises profound and worrying questions for established news and content brands, who are so used to trading on who – and where – they are.