I’m always surprised when I hear that a relatively young news media company is growing despite the heavy competition. The latest example is Rant Inc., which is launching 11 new news verticals today to compliment its existing communities for sports, lifestyle, and fashion.
Rant is following a similar strategy to BleacherReport in that it sources much of its content from a community of fans surrounding a particular topic like sports. The company said it has about 400 paid writers, but contributors must reach approval before being allowed to publish directly to the site, which is not unlike a lot of news organizations. Rant Media also hires full-time editors to make sure all of its content is up to par. The new verticals it’s introducing today include cars, movies, games, gadgets, dating, pets, music, and more.
Across its established verticals, Rant brings in about 20 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore. The traffic from the new verticals should increase those stats steadily over the next year. Rant is also planning to expand into ecommerce, businesses related to fantasy sports stats, and a lot more branded content.
“There’s a lot of room for growth, and we really haven’t even touched mobile across the board,” Rant founder and CEO Brett Rosin told VentureBeat. “When you look at other media startups that have raised $60 or $100 million, yeah there is certainly lots of growth potential. And we’re operating off of nothing.”
What that’s done, Rosin said, is “force us to really learn this business, because we don’t have the backing of some major VC.”
Rosin’s comments downplay the fact that the company actually has quite a bit of backing. It has raised $7.3 million in funding to date from former Gannett chairman and CEO Craig Dubow, Hudson Bay Capital Management, ROTH Capital Partners, and others.
The business of news media startups is in for a rough ride next year, according to PaidContent and Skift founder Rafat Ali, who recently penned a blog post warning startups to focus on generating revenue and growing their communities for survival.
One of Rant’s saving graces might be that its communities are pretty active, which makes sense considering much of its content comes directly from users. That means engagement is likely to be higher than on news/media properties that don’t cultivate a strong sense of community, instead relying on discussion on social networks or other communication channels.
“I think [community and content] go hand-in-hand,” Rosin said. “I’d even argue that they’re married, because without quality content you’re not going to have community. Everyone is going to have a different opinion about a particular subject, and quite frankly, I think it’s healthy [from a business perspective] to make sure people are staying engaged by sharing it.”
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