I wanted to add a little bit more of opinion/analysis to the story I posted regarding AOL's licensing agreement with The Sporting News.
While no one at AOL, MMA Fighting nor The Sporting News is talking about upcoming staff issues but it has been widely reported that the vast majority of Fanhouse writers will be let go in the coming months.
Before we delve into what this means specifically for MMA Fighting (http://www.mmafighting.com) it is first important to understand the deal with The Sporting News and why it happened. Essentially, Fanhouse was losing money and AOL gave up on running it's own sports property and are now licensing out the Fanhouse property to The Sporting News. This allows AOL to reduce its costs (they do not have to a run a staff) while stabilizing revenue (The Sporting News pays them for the brand) though they cede some editorial control.
Ben Koo has an excellent in-depth story covering the issues at Fanhouse and to summarize his post, as well as the early consensus, Fanhouse never established a strong brand due to constant changeover in management. The property itself was losing money, which most believe was a direct result in the changeover from a web-centric model to a traditional newspaper model. Fanhouse revamped it's staff with marquee writers whose contracts were costly but also required Fanhouse to pay extra in expense costs such as travel for on-site reporting.
That analysis might spell trouble for the staff of MMA Fighting. Typically the site sends a video reporter, videographer, feature writer and photographer to major MMA events. Plus they are paying writers/bloggers to cover the event from the office.
To put this in perspective Yahoo -- a site with four times the on-line reach -- typically sends a feature writer and photographer with one office writer/blogger.
On the surface the continuation of such staffing seems cost prohibitive given the context of high costs and losses leading AOL to abandon Fanhouse in favor of a licensing agreement. Thus, one could reasonably conclude that a staff reduction or at the least a content reduction will occur at MMA Fighting.
However, there is a potential bright spot for the staff. The Sporting News does not currently employ a dedicated mixed martial arts writer. Thus if MMA Fighting is able to show that they are profitable with the current staff and cost structure little may change.
On the flip side one could logically conclude that the editorial staff at The Sporting News doesn't understand the on-line value of mixed martial arts coverage and changes may be inevitable.
It will be very interesting to see what happens in the coming months.