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Jul 31 / Lee Walker

Bleacher Report UK launch: B/R with a British accent

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Lee Walker recently joined B/R as the Managing Editor of Bleacher Report UK, which launches today. Walker was most recently the Managing Editor at Eurosport.

When I was initially approached about the possibility of joining Bleacher Report, I came with an open mind and no real expectations. As I delved deeper into both the front- and back-end technology and spoke to the key stakeholders involved I became more and more excited about the opportunity.

No one in the U.K. does what Bleacher Report can offer. The norm in Britain is to own most of or all of the content within your space. But that does not offer the best experience.

The analogy I have been using is that if you are an Arsenal fan and want to watch the game live on TV you will switch the channel. IF you want news about the Gunners, you’ll go wherever that news is.

While other sports news outlets are like TV channels, hoping you’ll stick around to take in whatever they’re offering, B/R’s Team Stream app is like a remote control, helping you find what you want to see, whether it was created by Bleacher Report or someone else.

Bleacher Report’s wide-ranging mobile model makes perfect sense and I’m confident when more people are exposed to it, it will become the same monster hit in the U.K. that it is in the U.S.

More and more, news finds people rather than people finding news. Whether that be on their Facebook page, their Twitter feeds or via mobile. Very few major media companies send media alerts to their users. B/R does, not to be intrusive, but because the audience demands it.

The web space is also pretty stagnant in the U.K. Digital natives have made little impact and so a hegemony exists of traditional media presenting digital content via traditional methods. If you had to describe the landscape in one word, it would be “safe.”

There is clearly space in the market for digital natives, and this is where Bleacher Report fits in.

No one can match Bleacher Report’s entertaining, engaging, visually compelling content, no one curates news like B/R does, and no one else presents content in B/R’s style. Bleacher Report stories are laden with rich media: Videos, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vines, etc. etc.

The web is a wonderful place and we organise it for users, give people what they really want, rather than what editors think they should want.

B/R has the product and the infrastructure to be a big player in the U.K. My job is to extend the content to give people in the U.K. the entertaining and engaging sports content they crave and to leverage that infrastructure to make it work in our timezone and for our local needs.

Bleacher Report is a young company, but the site is not brand new. In just a few short years, B/R has already become the third-largest sports website in the U.S., the second largest on mobile.

Still, we’re new to many on this side of the Atlantic. We’re sure that as soon as they get a look at our coverage of the teams, leagues and topics they’re most interested in, U.K. sports fans will have a new favourite.

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Lee Walker is the Managing Editor of Bleacher Report UK.

  • Justin C Marsden (SE

    Football is international not European.

    • mschae

      True but the vast majority of football news that BR covers is about european clubs (note that the UEFA is calling its website “the official website for european football”). Therefore calling it european football is not inaccurate.

      Plus calling it european football is a way to avoid confusion with american football (which is an entirely different sport as you may know).

      • Eman

        UEFA is the union of European football associations, so of course it covers European football.

  • Winston Smith

    No problem with Bleacher Report publishing content produced by fans, but calling it news is degrading serious news gathering/reporting, that requires skill beyond that possessed by a hobbyist. The result of this approach has culminated in the nonsense of ‘In The Know’ Twitter accounts.

    • King_Kaufman

      Bleacher Report has in the neighborhood of 300 paid writers, about a quarter of whom are full-time. It’s true that Bleacher Report publishes some “content produced by fans,” as do many other prominent media outlets, many of them following B/R’s lead on the matter. But your suggestion that that’s all B/R is, or even mostly, is way off base. As of the last time I checked, in March, about 85 percent of Bleacher Report’s traffic was generated by paid writers, including paid video talent. The person who can give me the updated figure for that is on vacation this week, but I’m 100 percent sure it’s higher than 85 percent now.

      • Hank A

        You could pay me to operate a large crane. Then I would be a paid crane operator. That label wouldn’t do anything for my crane operation skills, which are non-existent. People would probably get killed.

        So yeah. Way to go with those paid writers.

        • King_Kaufman

          Ow. Whiplash. Argument changed really fast there.

          • Richard Warrell

            I’d alike to chip in here. I get the feeling from comments I see – like the ones in this conversation – that people think BR lets any old sports fan write for the site and lets them write whatever they want. That is far from true.

            BR does vet those of us who write for free (I believe the figure I read on signing up was that 25% of those who apply get to write for the site? It was almost two years ago so my memory is hazy on that) and the team of copy-editors are very thorough, communicating directly with writers about their work.

            I definitely feel I am held to a high standard at BR. Whether I am am doing this as a hobby or not, I’m very aware that I’m competing for views on the site with the professional writers on here, and that writing for the site is a revocable privilege that I can lose if my writing drops significantly in quality. The BR guys do a great job lighting a fire under us to make sure our writing stays hot.

          • Winston Smith

            The standard of writing is not that high. Random example from a featured columnist who wrote an article titled ‘Manchester United’s 10 Most Influential Transfers of All Time’ (a headline that doesn’t really explain the article – a transfer can be a player signed or sold, but in this case it is entirely about signings, hence, it should read ‘Signings’ not ‘Transfers’, but then I guess that wouldn’t go down as well with SEO, so let’s throw out sense to appease the Google spiders. The intro is an exercise in waffle that would be torn to shreds by an experienced sub-editor on a national newspaper. “Manchester United have had—without exaggerating—hundreds of world-class players walk through the gates of Old Trafford at some point or another.” To the average punter, that may seem fine, but to a professional, it is an utterly subjective, highly questionable statement (emphasised by the use of em dashes before any statement has even been made, to claim it will be “without exaggerating”) that would be better written as something like, “As one of the most successful clubs in European football, Manchester United have fielded some fantastic footballers through the years.” The next line states, “So to pick the greatest transfers of all time certainly isn’t an easy feat.” There is no such thing as an “easy feat”, a feat being an accomplishment that is by definition difficult. Now, these points may seem trivial to someone who isn’t a professional sub-editor, or to anyone more concerned with SEO, but these are the kind of things I would describe as contributing to “high standards”. When I was a child, I read printed football fanzines with content that appealed to me but were, with hindsight, terribly written. Such fanzines find their equivalent with much online content these days. Poor grammar and story construction won’t be a barrier to page views, if that is how you judge quality. My concern, as stated previously, is that such ‘quality’ is being applied to news gathering and reporting. The ‘quality’ of the media we consume will increasingly be driven by popularity, rather than experienced judgement, which could have dire consequences for the standards of news reporting.

          • Winston

            The irony is that ‘dumbass’ is not an actual word, Sam.

          • King_Kaufman

            Thanks for chipping in, Richard. Just one thing: That 25 percent figure is way off. In the last two months, the application approval rate is 4.6 percent. That rate has been pretty steady, hovering around 3 to 5 percent, for much longer than that.

          • Richard Warrell

            This just makes me more astonished I got accepted on the site, haha.

            Still, my point remains – BR’s got some very professional people watching over the amateurs, striving to ensure only work of a professional standard gets on the site.

        • Lucas Pinto Ferreiro

          I’m Brazilian and I really enjoy B/R. Well, it’s true not all articles are official news, but in that case they are classified as “Opinion” and not necessarily official news so there is no problem.

      • Winston Smith

        I agree with Hank A’s reply. Paying (unspecified amounts) does not necessarily equate to quality, professional news reporting. Subjective list features and opinion pieces are a different matter, but producing quality, trustworthy news content requires skills and expertise that can only be gained through extensive training and experience. My problem is the Bleacher Report UK Managing Editor refers to the site as a “news curator”. As a ‘digital native’ site, the Bleacher Report is symbolic of the non-news that is passed off as news (and worse, ‘breaking news’) by countless websites, be they large or small concerns, or merely Twitter accounts (see my reference to the ridiculous ‘In The Know’ tweeters). I may be mistaken, but I had previously heard that the Bleacher Report had a “blanket policy prohibiting writers from breaking their own news” – of course, that wouldn’t prohibit them from breaking other news sources’ news, but it is a concern that news is now potentially a rush to report first or in a manner that will generate the most views (as incentivised by the Bleacher Report’s payment structure).

        • King_Kaufman


          You are correct that Bleacher Report does not break news. It is driven by opinion, analysis and entertainment. So your criticism of B/R as somehow despoiling the world of news reporting, something it does not participate in, is a little strange. Be patient. At some point, we may change that strategy and enter the news-breaking field. At that time, you can criticize us using carefully cherry-picked anecdotal examples of things you don’t like.

          There is no daily media outlet that doesn’t publish stories that can be criticized in the ways you critiqued that Manchester United story. I could similarly cherry-pick outstanding stories on any day, though they might not be loved by a “sub-editor of a national newspaper,” because Bleacher Report is a national newspaper and doesn’t do everything exactly the same way a national newspaper would. But I won’t bother. I’m not going to convince you. This bothers everyone at B/R not a bit.

          We always say this: Bleacher Report is a work in progress. We’re proud of the improvements in quality that have resulted from our massive investments in it—editing, copy editing, content standards enforcement, feedback and education, initial screening of writers and so on. But of course we’re not perfect. Neither are the New York Times, the Economist or anyone else you want to name. We can still get way better, and we will. And when we do, there will still be people saying, “Ah, Bleacher Report: They don’t pay their writers so what do you expect.”

          What can WE expect? All critics can’t know what they’re talking about. We’ll soldier on.

          • Winston Smith

            But B/R does “participate” in “the world of news reporting”. You have a section titled “transfer news” and regularly use the word “news” in headlines. The B/R managing editor above talks about the role you play in news dissemination. You may not be ‘breaking’ this news – ie. genuinely being the first to report a news story, rather than ‘curating news’ as the managing editor describes it, above – but you do have a section titled ‘breaking news’, which makes me wonder why, considering you said I am correct that “Bleacher Report does not break news”. Why do you use the words ‘breaking news’, then? For SEO purposes, perhaps? The desire to publish content that is SEO friendly and drives page views is a threat to the integrity and quality of journalism, in my opinion. Also, I would be interested to know what guidelines the Bleacher Report lays down for staff and contributors, be they paid or unpaid, when ‘curating news’. As for ‘cherry picking’ that story, that was the first story I clicked on from your football page, because it was written by a ‘featured columnist’ (being featured, I thought, suggested the writer was being suggested by B/R as representing a high standard of writing). I did not look at any other stories so that I might cherry pick an example of things I don’t like, but it was clear from the first two sentences that it required better editing. I take it from your comment that you are happy to publish writing that contains errors – “This bothers everyone at B/R not a bit”, as you said, because the Bleacher Report is not a national newspaper (websites shouldn’t aspire to such standards?). I would try and persuade you that, as the Bleacher Report writing program manager, you should aspire to publishing content without errors, but it seems I’m not going to convince you. That, as someone who fears for the quality of news reporting, bothers me a bit.

          • Winston Smith

            By the way, if it is true that “there is no daily media outlet that doesn’t publish stories that can be criticized in the ways [I] critiqued that Manchester United story”, that is something to lament. Just because another media outlet else may publish, for example, an obvious oxymoron in a piece of edited work, does not make it any less of a mistake. But then, as you said, anyone can cherry pick poor or outstanding stories on any day, from such media outlets. I didn’t cherry pick that particular story, but in the interests of fairness I have gone back to the B/R football page and clicked on one of the top billed stories, ‘The Mechanics of a Modern Transfer Deal’ (filed under ‘Transfer News’ – although, B/R doesn’t do news, apparently). This story was written by a staff writer named Jerrad Peters and, it is fair to say, is grammatically sound. However, as someone with personal experience of the business of Premier League football, I found the article to reveal little beyond an extremely basic, common sense interpretation of the mechanics of a modern transfer deal, gleaned from little or no research to compensate for the total lack personal experience on the author’s behalf. There is no real insight into the subject, no interviews with anyone qualified to provide any first-hand insight and it is, therefore, a very disappointing read. It is, to be frank, an article on the subject – spelling and grammar aside – worthy of a secondary school student. But then, it is quite possible, given the amount of content you probably publish, that I was just unlucky and didn’t stumble across one of those outstanding stories you mentioned, even if this particular article was written by a staff writer.

  • JT

    I dislike that my homepage automatically to the UK page with a page featuring Football and cricket as the top sports almost presuming that all us Brits love those sports and dislike the american ones. Dont be so presumptuous B/R….

    • King_Kaufman


      Passing this feedback along.

    • King_Kaufman


      Well I just learned something. Once you toggle to the US page, it should stick there for you. As long as you don’t clear your cookies, the next time you go to Bleacher Report, it will bring up whichever site, US or UK, you were on last time. So if you’re an NFL fan in London or an EPL fan in Topeka, you should be able to set your B/R home page to whichever you like better and not have to toggle on every visit.

      • Teprosser

        Not necessarily true. Yes when you type in Bleacher Report from scratch it takes you back to the one you toggled from top of the page. However when you actually go into an article all the category headings revert to the UK one if you are in the UK meaning you have to toggle back to the US edition again.

        • King_Kaufman

          Consulting with someone smart. Stand by!

        • Amit Sainani

          So this is what I did:

          1) Cleared cookies
          2) Went to with UK proxy. Taken to as expected. Switched to US mode. Closed window.
          3) Opened new window and went to Taken to US mode as expected. Closed window.
          4) Clicked on an article from a newsletter. Taken to US mode as expected.

          Do not see any category headings reverting to UK. Let me know if this is different than what you are trying. Thanks.

          • King_Kaufman

            Amit is a Quality Assurance Manager at B/R, so when you reply to him, you’re talking to someone who can fix any problem you might be having.

  • Hank A

    “No one in the U.K. does what Bleacher Report can offer.”


  • Abz

    Love it!!

  • Mickey O’Neill

    Slideshow Ideas:

    Top 5 Countries in Europe

    12 Reasons Why Sports Are Good in England

    Top 5 English Sayings About Things

  • SC

    India, perhaps ? It would provide B/R with great returns if B/R chooses to cover cricket well. There’s a reason why Cricinfo is more popular than B/R in spite of it being only about a single sport. But I believe that the brilliant writers of B/R will change that.

  • Ian.F.

    Totally brilliant concept. Looking forward to it developing into a monster-site here in the UK!