It started as an amateur internet sports blog written to pass time in college, and had fewer viewers than your average junior C club hurling match played in November.
But it has swelled into a successful, professional sports website, which receives thousands of hits a day, and has attracted advertising from the ‘big boys’ such as betting giant Paddy Power.
The London-based website, www.thesportreview.com, was developed by Galway man Kieran Beckles and his business partner, West Londoner, Martin Caparrotta.
From humble beginnings back in 2009, the duo wrote sports reports and comment pieces on a blog, which at best attracted a few hundred ‘hits’.
The lads broke the psychologically important 1,000-hits with their first ‘big’ story – the signing of Andrei Arshavin for Arsenal – and it has grown exponentially since.
That gave them an indication of the potential a sports site had. And when they started to dedicate their time full-time to the project, in 2012, the popularity of it exploded.
“We were getting 30,000 or 40,000 unique users a month. It was around the time of Wimbledon and the London Olympics. Again with the World Cup this year we’ve continued to grow and we currently have between 800,000 and one million unique users a month,” says Kieran, who was born in London but lived in Claddagh for years, the home of his mother.
Kieran (25), who won national and international titles while rowing with St Joseph’s ‘The Bish’, is an NUI Galway Legal Science and Italian graduate.
It was while on an Erasmus year studying in Bologna where Kieran and Martin met. They played five-a-side soccer together, watched the Premier League together and had a general interest in sport.
They combined their love of sport, an interest in journalism, with Martin’s knowledge of website design.
It started as a blog, “just to pass the time in college really,” says Kieran. “We were only doing four or five articles a day. But we gradually started growing it to where we are now,” he says.
The website business depends heavily on traffic – unless a certain amount of ‘eyes’ are directed to the site, and unless the ‘hits’ don’t keep coming, advertisers won’t part with their money.
Kieran admits that aspect of it is “pretty depressing at times” if the site isn’t reaching its daily targets for hits. But, they know their audience, and “we commit so many hours to it that we know how to get the users and to generate the traffic.”
Tapping into a global audience, hungry for sports news and constant updates on sports, through search engine Google is the fastest way to divert traffic; while the website has also had articles linked to popular websites such as the BBC, which also attracts new users and traffic.
At the moment, the website has a team of freelance and agency writers who contribute to the site, including students.
But as the website expands, Kieran says they are anxious to hire a team of full-time paid-for writers.
“The plan is to continue to grow the site. We’re on course to have our best ever month this August. We always wanted to work for ourselves but our social lives have taken a bit of a back seat. In the longer term the plan is to grow a team of writers.
“We’ve found it is the comment pieces and the player ratings, rather than the match reports, that do well. We want to attract more advertisers. We built it up slowly over the years and we just want to continue to let it grow,” adds Kieran.