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AP Seeks New Internet Business Model in Winter Olympics

By Mark Fitzgerald

Published: February 04, 2010

CHICAGO The Associated Press is sending its usual army of journalists to the Winter Olympics, with 120 reporters, photographers, editors and videographers now arriving in Vancouver for next week's opening ceremony.

But AP's Olympic coverage this time around also represents a real departure for the wire service's online coverage. Rather than simply provide content, it is partnering with more than 900 newspapers and broadcasters who will split the ad revenue generated from an AP-produced multi-media package of video, photos, statistics, stories and a daily Webcast.

An "all-media module" on the AP site can be embedded by newspapers members or readers in blogs, Facebook pages or Web sites, AP says.

The idea is that all those links with the AP package will generate traffic that can attract significant revenue, AP says.

"These members add up to a very, very large audience and if we can activate that audience, it bodes well for us and for our members," said Mike Lutzky, AP's global director of sports products. "In a way, it's an extension of the cooperative model. We've always produced content. Now we're delivering packaging of that content in a way that delivers some value to members."

The revenue splitting arrangement reflects the enormous cost of covering the Olympics.

"It takes a lot of resources to cover the Olympics for two and a half weeks," he said. "In a lot of ways, we're taking more of the costs, and we have to share some of those costs. The content now we have to file more frequently, we have to deliver in multiple formats. There's a need to try and find ways, like everyone else, to get back the money we put into these things."

AP's Winter Olympics platform has been designed with the explosion of social media in mind. "We've done our experiments with Twitter feeds, done our experiments with Facebook -- and this is the first time we actually have a platform to move people to where the content is," Lutzky said.

AP's coverage also will be available on http://wintergames.ap.org. The package will be co-branded with AP and the member newspaper or broadcaster.



Mark Fitzgerald (mfitzgerald@editorandpublisher.com) is editor of E&P.

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