By: Staff Reports

Same Services But New Business Model

SportsHuddle.com, the high school sports site that struggled in
maintaining services to newspapers in December, has resurfaced
and sold its assets to Waveshift Inc. of Cameron Park, Calif.

Waveshift, which has been around since the Internet’s early days
in 1993, has acquired SportsHuddle’s equipment and software to
re-launch the sports publishing system to its newspaper
customers, providing them with high school sports scores, stats,
and stories for both online and print editions.

Six sites have been live since Tuesday, said Andy Beal, president
of Waveshift. Sportshuddle.com had 53 customers prior to its
cash-flow problem and troubled services that, according to some
clients, just disappeared without notice. Beal plans to approach
these customers to see if they want to re-launch the service.

Zack Gaulkin at MaineToday.com, which previously used
SportsHuddle, said, “I can’t say we definitely won’t go with
Waveshift – it depends on what they offer. We’re being very
selective these days.”

According to Beal, Waveshift is offering the same services as
SportsHuddle did – minus the FanClub feature – but for
a price. SportsHuddle.com’s business model had been based on
advertising revenue. Beal will use a fee-for-services application
service provider (ASP) model – one that he has used for
Waveshift’s three other products.

But some former SportsHuddle clients are wondering what happened
to their content. Some of them want it back to build their own
systems. Beal said he hasn’t dealt with that question yet. He
said SportsHuddle offered in November to return content hosted on
their servers to newspaper customers.

SeattleTimes.com had no problem getting their content back, but
they’re not ready to launch SportsHuddle again just yet. “We’ve
been in touch with Waveshift,” said Patricia Lee Smith, director
of online products and executive producer. “When we see them
prove their services and business model, then we’ll reconsider.”

Smith, along with other online newspaper managers, invested a lot
of time into setting up the former SportsHuddle service which
received tremendous support from their communities. Several
online managers said they’re not ready to risk disappointing
their high school communities again.

Waveshift has an established track record with three other
products – YourTown, Webforums, and MyCalendar. YourTown in
particular has gotten the industry’s attention from partnerships
with azcentral, Scripps, and Ottaway Newspapers.

Waveshift also has had the backing of The McClatchy Co.’s
Nando.net. McClatchy participated in the most recent limited
financing round for Waveshift, after first investing in 1997.
Since then McClatchy’s Nando.net has hosted Waveshift’s new
YourTown.net service. According to Beal, Nando.net also will host
the SportsHuddle service, beginning in a few months.

Gannett Co. Inc. became an equity participant in Waveshift when
it acquired Central Newspapers.

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Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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