Let a thousand sports blogs bloom: SB Nation raises $10.5M

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sb nation mapUpdated

SB Nation, a network of local sports blogs (that’s what the “SB” stands for), has raised $10.5 million in new funding led by Khosla Ventures. After news of the funding was leaked to All Things Digital, chief executive Jim Bankoff confirmed it over email.

The Washington, D.C.-based company has been around since 2003, when it was known as Athletic Nation. The company’s big idea is that the audience for sports news is fragmented — fans care less about general news than they do about their specific sport and team. So SB Nation has built out a massive network of focused sites — the company says there are currently 289 blogs in the network. At the same time, it keeps costs down by just paying its contributors a monthly stipend, acccording to an Inc magazine profile of the company.

Prior to joining SB Nation in 2008, Bankoff had plenty of experience in the blog world — he was an executive at AOL, where he oversaw the acquisition of blog network Weblogs.

SB Nation has been growing quickly. It sees 8 million unique visitors and 40 million pageviews per month, Inc reported. (I’ve asked Bankoff if he has updated traffic numbers, and I’ll update if I hear back.) And PaidContent says that the company has almost reached the break-even point.

Previous investors Accel Partners and Comcast Interactive Capital both participated in the new round, which brings SB Nation’s total funding to $23.5 million.

Update: Bankoff just emailed me to say that SB Nation’s Google Analytics numbers put SB Nation at 17 million monthly uniques, while Quantcast says 9 million. Either way, the company has had consistent growth, usually doubling or tripling its traffic every year.

VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying marketing analytics... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.