EssentiallySports targets US sports content market with fresh, youthful approach

In 2014, three sports enthusiasts — Suryansh Tibarewal, Harit Pathak, and Jaskirat Arora — joined hands to launch a sports platform that aimed to deliver light-hearted content that’d resonate more with youth, and different from what legacy platforms like ESPN offered. 

In the next year or so, Delhi-based EssentiallySports had more than 250 students from different colleges writing content for the platform voluntarily, co-founder Tibarewal told Entrackr. 

“All of us used to write just for fun then. There was no business model as such,” he added while recalling the early days of EssentiallySports.

Tibarewal further said that it took nearly four years for the team to figure out what actually worked for them – tennis and F1 weren’t being extensively covered and that there was a big scope for these in the US market. By 2018, the company started to double down on its strength areas. 

In its modern avatar, EssentiallySports’ more than 90% of web traffic comes from the US market. In 2022, the platform recorded more than 1.8 billion pageviews cumulatively and averaged around 100 million page views per month. While the search is the major source of traffic, it also generates views from direct visits and news aggregators like Smartnews, among others. The website also covers sports like NBA, boxing, UFC, NFL, and e-sports.

Tibarewal said that tennis, NASCAR, NFL, NBA, and bodybuilding were among the most popular sports genres on the platform, at the moment. The company has currently more than 200 writers and editors working remotely mostly from India. 

EssentiallySports, a bootstrapped company, generates revenue from advertisements on the platform. Focusing on a premium market allowed the company to have better margins, Tibarewal added, without disclosing further financial details of the firm. There are also no immediate plans to raise external funding. He further said that the company will experiment with a paywall by deploying Google’s direct integration infrastructure for paid content. 

In the near future, the company will expand its content portfolio to cover genres like NCAA, moving the categories covered from 12 to 20. They also plan to ramp up the number of articles they publish. 

According to a report by Grand View Research, the global sports media market size was valued at $153.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $223.7 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 4.9% from 2020 to 2027. In the US, the sports media market is estimated to have generated $21.1 billion in revenue in 2021, with an annual growth rate of 2.3% from 2016 to 2021. 

Even as conventional sports platforms like ESPN and Fox Sports have continued to thrive, platforms like Bleacher Report, The Athletic, and Barstool Sports have gained traction. From India, SportsKeeda has built a following in the US with its extensive WWE and pro wrestling content. In 2019, Nazara Technologies acquired a 67% stake in SportsKeeda. 

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