Concluding that there is an under-served market of soccer fans seeking news about American professional soccer, the Orlando Sentinel announced Thursday it is launching a website devoted to Major League Soccer news, analysis and commentary.
The Sentinel reported Thursday that its new site, ProSoccerUSA, will tap into the coverage the newspaper’s sports staff has provided of the league and Orlando City Soccer, and build upon that for national coverage, hoping to attract a national audience of fans looking for news on the Columbus Crew, the Orlando City Lions, the San Jose Earthquakes, and the rest of Major League Soccer.
The paper’s former Orlando City beat reporter, Alicia DeGallo, has been named website editor.
“No one really does what we do at the moment,” she said in a story the paper published Thursday. “With the growth of Major League Soccer in the last decade and its projected growth for the future, there is no better time for a sports news site like ProSoccerUSA.com.”
“No one” may be a bit of exaggeration, but the Sentinel appears to be appealing to those soccer fans who never think there is enough available news on their favorite pastime, suggested Tim Brown, associate director and associate professor of journalism and radio/TV at the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication.
The Sentinel, like all “legacy media” has been searching for outlets to find readers digitally, seeking more sustainable audiences in niche markets while legacy audiences at broad media continue to decline, Brown noted. A soccer news website also could become an independent generator of revenue for the newspaper company, and the Sentinel’s investment might not have to be much, considering how easy it is to aggregate content coming in from other sources.
The product appears to be Orlando-based and developed, though the newspaper is owned by Chicago-based tronc Inc., owner of newspapers from Los Angeles to Baltimore, including the Sun Sentinel of South Florida.
“Is it a gamble? Yes, absolutely,” Brown said. “My guess is it is not as much of a gamble as it would have been 10 or 15 years ago when you had to print this stuff, and you would have had to have more people to do it, whereas now you have other places you can get the information.”
Brown added, “The people I know [involved in the Sentinel’s digital products,] this is not something they would jump into lightly.”
The site will not be officially launched until February, but the Sentinel has taken live a beta version of the site, intended to be available to provide coverage for the MLS Player Combine being held at Orlando City Stadium through Jan. 17.
The site will have reporters covering the combine, the Sentinel reported. The site will be expanded heading toward kickoff of the 2018 MLS season in March. The Sentinel also solicited its readers to provide contributions to the site.