-- from the Austin American-Statesman Staff
The Austin American-Statesman is teaming up with nationally acclaimed, online sports recruiting pioneer Bobby Burton to transform Hookem.com into the deepest, most interactive Texas Longhorns website available.
In this transition, the long-time Statesman fan site Hookem.com becomes a subscription-based website with premium content that is linked to, and part of, the national 247Sports.com network.
“This is going to be the most comprehensive Longhorns coverage you can find,” says Burton, who is president of 247Sports and a nationally recognized expert in college football recruiting. “We’re going to be a site that covers every aspect of the team and recruiting is a very integral part of that. We’ll cover it from A to Z.”
Burton and CEO Shannon Terry developed their reputation for success in digital sports market by building Rivals.com into an online powerhouse of college recruiting coverage. At its height, Rivals.com had more than 200,000 active subscribers and 2.5 million unique visitors per month.
In 2000, Burton was ranked by The Sporting News as one of the most powerful people in sports because of his influence on college recruiting. In 2007, The Sports Business Journal named Terry one of the 20 Most Influential People in Online Sports.
Rivals.com was sold to Yahoo! in July 2007. Burton and Terry later teamed up to launch 247Sports this summer.
Staff at, and contributors to, 247Sports.com provide breaking news on events and recruiting for colleges nationwide, and they manage message boards for the exchange of current, informed opinion. Currently the focus of the site is college football and basketball.
Burton says the partnership of 247Sports and the Statesman through Hookem combines the best of mainstream media and the digital world.
“I think fans will like it because it’s the first time an established media voice has really done something like this in a very deep way,” Burton says. “Nobody covers the Longhorns like the American-Statesman. To add that alongside the expert recruiting coverage of 247Sports, we felt like it was a can’t miss opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
Hookem.com will include news and feature stories, a current recruiting database, photos, videos and a message board. The site will integrate with social media services, including Twitter and Facebook.
“We’re going to put a focus on technology,” Burton says. “People are going to be able to interact with each other in a different way. We’ll be more social media capable. We’ll have message board technology that will have greater interaction with the experts about the team and recruiting.”
Alan Trubow, who has been covering Longhorns sports for four years, is joining the Hookem.com staff as lead writer for team coverage. Current Hookem.com content manager Dave Behr will remain with the site and also provide team coverage and premium content.
For recruiting coverage, Hookem staff will work with Gerry Hamilton, a national recruiting analyst and Texas expert, and Jeff Howe, who has been on the national recruiting trail for more than seven years. Hamilton and Howe are recognized as two of the hardest working, most respected and most connected recruiting analysts in Texas.
“We will combine the best, closest coverage of team news with the best available information on recruiting,” says Statesman Editor Fred Zipp. “We will give all of our members the chance to converse with the experts and be a part of an insider community on all aspects of Texas sports.”
"Not only do the guys at 247Sports.com know the business backward and frontward, they've been a real joy to work with on this project — very collaborative,” says Tim Lott, the Statesman Vice President for Audience Strategy.
"When you examine the premium sports and recruiting space, and think about who has made it work both journalistically and financially through the years, two names always come up: Shannon Terry and Bobby Burton.”
Annual subscriptions to Hookem.com will be $8.95 per month. Monthly subscriptions will be $9.95 per month. Until Christmas, the annual subscription rate is being offered at $79.95.
"We are excited about the new partnership between 247Sports.com and The Statesman Co. The new improved Hookem.com site created from the partnership fits perfectly within our mission of providing the best in-depth news available in Austin,” Statesman publisher Michael Vivio says.
“This is another expansion of The Statesman Co. at a time when others are shrinking and is an expression of our confidence in the market for quality journalism."
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