A graphic for the Q.Digital acquisition of Outsports. A graphic for the Q.Digital acquisition of Outsports. (Outsports.com.)

Vox Media as a whole was built out of sports blog network SB Nation, but more and more sports sites have been leaving that company lately. The latest is Outsports, which focuses on LGBTQ+ coverage in sports. Cyd Zeigler, Jr. and Jim Buzinski founded Outsports in 1999 (even before SB Nation’s 2003 founding) and sold it to SBN in 2011, with Buzinski and Zeigler continuing to operate it. The site has now been acquired by LGBTQ+ publisher Q.Digital in an all-stock move, as per Sara Guaglione of Digiday:

Here’s more from that piece:

The non-cash transaction means Q.Digital effectively takes over Outsports’ cost of operations and revenue from Vox Media, keeping the team intact. All seven people on the Outsports team have moved to Q.Digital as part of the “acqui-hire” deal, including co-founders Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler and five contributors, said Scott Gatz, CEO of Q.Digital. Outsports officially migrated to Q.Digital on March 4, Buzinski said.

…Vox Media acquired 24-year-old Outsports in 2011, and it was the only LGBTQ publication at the company, Buzinski said. When Gatz heard that Vox Media was looking at ways to scale back its portfolio at the end of last year and that the Outsports team was at risk of shuttering, Q.Digital swooped in, he told Digiday.

“In order for Outsports to grow its audience and its business, together we decided that now is the right time for us to find it a new home. We are thrilled with this new partner that directly aligns with their storytelling capabilities and will be a strong fit in terms of the business they’re building,” said a Vox Media spokesperson. They declined to comment on the financial terms of the transaction. “We wanted to set Outsports up either independently or at a new home in order to continue their important work,” the spokesperson added.

…Buzinski described Outsports as a small publication in a big portfolio under Vox Media, and it will now get more attention with a smaller publisher. (Outsports sat within SB Nation, Vox Media’s network of over 300 sports blogs.) “It was never really a great fit,” Buzinski said. “We were never really a focus of their sales strategy.”

And here’s more from a Q.Digital press release:

“LGBTQ+ athletes have been coming out and conquering the sports worlds at historic rates, and it’s clear from previous coverage across our platforms that our audience is incredibly hungry for their stories,” says Q.Digital CEO Scott Gatz. “It’s very exciting to expand our storytelling with the experts from Outsports, especially in time for the Summer Games in Paris where more queer athletes will be competing than ever before.”

As part of the acquisition, Outsports’ co-founders Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler, along with their entire staff of contributors, will join the Q.Digital editorial team. “We created Outsports way back in 1999 when gay athletes were scared to be visible and our stories weren’t being told,” Zeigler and Buzinski said in a joint statement. “Our mission was to share the sports news that impacted our community and now, with the support of the Q.Digital team, Outsports will produce even more inspirational, award-winning journalism.”

Maybe the most notable thing across those pieces is the “we were never really a focus of their strategy” line from Buzinski to Guaglione. And that’s certainly the case in the case of Outsports. Their focus was always quite different from the rest of SB Nation, and it’s quite possible to see an ad sales benefit there for a publisher with more LGBTQ+ coverage that can sell ads specifically to brands looking to appeal to a LGBTQ+ audience. And this is a more positive transition than many recent domain name acquisitions, with the site retaining its full current staff.

But there is also a wider thing here of Vox moving away from a lot of their sports sites. That’s included several rounds of personnel cuts and layoffs in the past few years through cutting loose a lot of individual sites. It will be interesting to see how Outsports does at Q.Digital, and also what sports coverage Vox and SB Nation do continue with.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.