Sports Fans' Online Word-of-Mouth Analyzed in Industry's Leading Trade Publications

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(Buzz Manager™ Identifies Hottest Topics In Blogosphere) Sports Media Challenge announces the launching of the Sports Blog Index™, which will identify and analyze the hottest issues fans are talking about online. The most influential blogs identified in the index ultimately point to those issues and brands that fans focus their coveted attention on. The SBI's top five issues will be featured in Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily and take a more in-depth look at a single hot issue online.

Sports Media Challenge announces the launching of the Sports Blog Index™, which will identify and analyze the hottest issues fans are talking about online. The most influential blogs identified in the index ultimately point to those issues and brands that fans focus their coveted attention on. The SBI's top five issues will be featured in Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily and take a more in-depth look at a single hot issue online.

The SBI aims to be a helpful tool to determine where the most passionate fans go on the Internet and which blogs carry the most weight. It also recognizes that sports fans are gaining unprecedented power and influence in the marketplace necessitating closer attention by sports marketers. Blogs and other online forums are where fans voluntarily provide insight and instant feedback on the brands and issues that are at the core of this multi-billion dollar industry.

"Passion and community are synonymous with sports, which is why fans have embraced blogs," said Sports Media Challenge President Kathleen Hessert. "Whether you're a diehard NASCAR follower or NCAA Football fanatic, there's a wealth of established blogs to express opinions, get connected and listen to other passionate fans. For marketers committed to listening to and engaging fans, the blogosphere and social networking sites are gaining importance as they've become utility communication tools which provide a treasure trove of business intelligence." It's been estimated that there's a new blog created every minute and a recent report found that over 54 million Americans and over 39 percent of the total U.S. Internet population visited blogs in 2006. "Blog Hound," a snapshot of the blogosphere perspective on an issue of the day, is one of the most popular features of SportsBusiness Daily.

With this proliferation of blogs dedicated to all things sports, SMC identified the need to establish an index to determine where fans and critics go online to feed their insatiable hunger for information. The giant sports networks bring us the facts, but SMC is determining where the best virtual water cooler conversations are taking place and where fans and critics congregate to debate the hottest issues. Says Hessert, "we go where the fans go and take you with us."

"Buzz Manager ™ is a leading-edge monitoring tool that will provide our readers with interesting insight into what appears to be the most pertinent and passionate topics each week and the best places to go online to join in the discussion," said SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily Executive Editor Abraham Madkour. The Sports Blog Index™ will be available to SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Journal subscribers and at http://www.sportsmediachallenge.com Sports Media Challenge will provide monthly updates of the general Sports Blog Index and additional indexes ranking those blogs fans count on for the most popular sports.

Following is an example of the week's top five topics discussed on blogs in the Sports Blog Index from April 1-7:

1. NCAA Men's Basketball Coaching Carousel - 31%
2. The Masters - 27%
3. NCAA Championship Game/Final 4 - 25%
4. Major League Baseball Opening Day - 10%
5. Billy Packer's "fag out" comments - 7%

There are three criteria that Sports Media Challenge use to rank blogs for inclusion in the top 10 -- Influence, Fan Engagement and Quality. These criteria combine quantitative aspects, including the number of incoming links that connect to the blog, number of fan comments as well as qualitative measurement by Sports Media Challenge analysts.

Buzz Manager, a staple service of SMC, is the proprietary search engine focusing explicitly on the sports, entertainment and lifestyle markets. It mines, monitors and analyzes online content and helps identify the most influential blogs in the Sports Blog Index. Buzz Manager tracks and measures the online word-of-mouth and mainstream media exposure of brands in the sports market. A combination of technology and human analysis is used to determine a brand's awareness and perception. The Sports Blog Index uses the Buzz Manager tracking software to determine ratings for the hundreds of sports blogs bring tracked. Beyond blogs, Buzz Manager also monitors trends on other forms of Fan-generated media™, including message boards, MySpace pages and other social networks that focus on sports.

About Sports Media Challenge
Since 1988, Sports Media Challenge has helped more than 100 leading university athletic departments, professional leagues, teams and world-class sports personalities protect and enhance their brands through strategic communications, consulting and training. Some of the more prominent clients to use PR and marketing tools both proactively and reactively include, The Universities of Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas, THE PGA TOUR, The NFL, MLB and NBA teams as well as NFL MVP Peyton Manning, Yankees Captain Derek Jeter, and NBA great Shaquille O'Neal. Sports Media Challenge has become the industry leader in online word-of-mouth marketing and reputation management. For more information go to: http://www.sportsmediachallenge.com

Harold Kaufman
Sports Media Challenge - Senior Analyst and Consultant
704 451-8938

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