Akshit Pushkarna

How EssentiallySports is penetrating the US sports media market

Jaskirat Arora, Content Head and co-founder, EssentiallySports, explains how the website received over a billion clicks in 2022 by focusing on covering popular sports in the US.

In 2014, software engineers Harit Pathak, Suryansh Tiberwala and Jaskirat Arora ventured into the sports content industry. The trio established EssentiallySports (ES), with the aim to cover developments in the sports arena globally.

Nine years down the line, the bootstrapped startup now employs over 220 people, who generate content that got 1.18 billion clicks in 2022.

In an interaction with afaqs!, Arora, who heads the content wing at ES, highlights that the US emerged as the prime market for the website soon after its inception.

“We saw the opportunity to grow exponentially if we could effectively penetrate this market by focusing on US sports and building our brand identity around it.”

EssentiallySports identified the increase in the popularity of sports like tennis, Formula One (F1) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the US. So, it decided to increase its focus on these sports and bring out unique perspectives to gain a foothold in the US market.

The company then shifted its editorial operations to focus more on developing quality content. Initially, it was a platform where sports enthusiasts from India could write about trending sports topics and. Then, the company introduced strict editorial guidelines and onboarded editors to ensure the quality of content.

ES then focused on developing a framework to achieve strategic growth. Interestingly, it capitalised on Facebook and Reddit’s fan communities to promote its content."

Utilising Reddit’s subreddit community feature, the marketing folks at ES joined relevant ‘subreddits’ and participated actively in discussions. These handles would also share their content on Reddit. “This helped us establish ourselves as a reliable and knowledgeable sports news source, thereby boosting our readership,” Arora claims.

In a bid to further penetrate the US sports market, EssentiallySports is planning to cover regional sports tournaments that are fairly popular only in the country. This coverage will include the women’s national basketball association (WNBA), college sports and national collegiate athletic association (NCAA).

Arora asserts that prioritising sports popular in the US, has led to a dynamic increase in readership. The advertiser interest in ES, has also picked up. The company collaborated with adtech firm AdPushup to optimise ad revenue, without compromising on user experience, Arora asserts.

ES' ad offerings include standard formats like display/native ads, as well as innovative formats such as in-image/in-content ads. The company has also partnered with STN Video. This partnership, according to Arora, helps ES integrate video content into its articles, leading to more traction.

“With direct ad deals via STN Video, we can offer premium video ad inventory targeted at our specific audience. This unique selling point has attracted more advertisers from the sports market, including the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour, amongst others,” mentions Arora.

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