It remains to be seen how much Harvey Levin will be extending his powerful TMZ brand into the sports world in 2010. There’s a difference between creating a different URL and directing one’s army of “photographers” toward the airports and hotels of professional athletes. So the brass at the celebrity tabloid site will be adding athletes to target list for their stalkerati. Think it won’t succeed? Maybe it won’t, but consider this.
TMZ typically gets the jump on everyone. Whether it’s Michael Jackson or Tiger Woods, Harvey Levin’s network casts a pretty big net, and that net brings in a lot of scoops. The laundry list of blind items for ESPN’s Chris Mortensen to “confirm” and then pass off as his own just got a little longer. Even people that don’t go to TMZsports.com directly will feel its presence in whatever websites they do frequent.
Sports coverage needs a serious kick to the balls. Writers have been protecting athletes for years. When was the last time a beat writer broke a story about a player cheating on his wife? That doesn’t happen, and it’s not because team jocks are a faithful lot. While the average sports fan may not care to see video of Aaron Harang double-parking his Escalade, eventually Harvey Levin’s new venture will dig up something involving someone too well-known to ignore.
The money’s out there. Just going by the back of my envelope here, TMZ’s current celeb-watch platform appeals to a mainly female demographic, and typically ignores the men. With a sports-oriented platform, that network’s audience gets a shakeup and balance that it desperately needs. It’s hard to imagine that TMZ got as big as it did without catering to that coveted 18-to-34-males demo, but it has. Now, by seeking that group of fans that care more about clubbing than slugging (male and female), TMZ has nowhere to go but up.
To think that TMZ can’t bring in the casual sports fan is madness, especially when you consider the market for celebrity news that they helped create where none previously existed. No, TMZ Sports won’t be a game changer, and it may not be the next Deadspin. But it will give everyone else a run for their money. There goes the neighborhood.