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July 19, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Not all sports fans are cut from the same cloth. Some are casual fans, and others would do anything for their favorite team. Likewise, not all websites are created equal. PowerMizzou.com, based in Columbia, is designed for the latter and provides coverage of all aspects of MU’s primary athletics programs.
The website, which is part of the Rivals network, a group of more than 100 sites dedicated to covering college athletics and recruiting, has steadily carved out a niche in the growing market. For two consecutive years, it was recognized at the summer Rivals convention as the network’s fastest-growing site among all with more than 1,000 subscribers.
PowerMizzou.com publisher Gabe DeArmond says three full-time writers, a photographer and freelance writers currently contribute to the site. It’s a far cry from what things used to look like when he took the job nine years ago. The site used to be updated sporadically, and the coverage was 100 percent recruiting, DeArmond says. But throughout the years, he’s grown the site into one that’s read daily with constantly updated information on MU’s most popular teams, football and men’s basketball. Other MU sports are also covered occasionally.
MU athletics have spurred plenty of noteworthy stories during the past year. With the exit of Blaine Gabbert, the introduction of top prospect Dorial Green-Beckham and the move to the SEC, PowerMizzou.com has had its hands full delivering breaking news. An ability to stay on the forefront of MU sports news has been one of the website’s biggest assets for growing its subscriber base. When DeArmond started at PowerMizzou.com, he had approximately 600 subscribers. Today, it’s typical to find more than 600 members online at any given time during the day.
“The biggest boost we got was on Sept. 20,” DeArmond says. “I wrote a story saying that if Missouri is going to move from the Big 12, they’re probably going to the SEC. And at that point in time, that really wasn’t on the radar.”
Subscribers have come to expect news from the site before national sports networks report it. “When you’re talking to your other friends at the game, they’re asking you questions because they know that you know,” DeArmond says.
To help cover the SEC move, writer Pete Scantlebury will be reporting on the culture of the new cities and schools MU will face. He will interact with fans in different SEC college towns and report on the atmosphere surrounding the sports teams.
With story topics such as updates during practices and high school players mentioning MU as a possible college choice, the site is produced for die-hard Tigers followers who pay $10 a month for complete access.
Subscriber Barry Roewe says the MU fan base, like most others, is like a pyramid with everyday sports observers at the bottom and more extreme fans at the top. The PowerMizzou.com online community, he says, is definitely made up of people from the top section.
“I think there’s a common, brotherly respect for each other because, to the casual fan, we may look a little crazy,” Roewe says. “So you can get on a message board and spill your guts about a game and give your opinions, and everyone kind of knows where you’re coming from.”
Freelancer Michael Gaio returned to writing for the site after working for the Baylor Athletic Department for the past year. The site’s expansion has allowed space for him to return as a reporter. The goal for the website has been to establish credibility as a source for accurate and official news, Gaio says.
“You may go to a school site that’s owned by Rivals, and it may be a little more biased,” Gaio says. “Gabe and his staff do a good job at being unbiased and reporting fairly and accurately.”
DeArmond says the goal of the site is to become the one source MU fans rely on for all coverage for the school’s major programs. This goal is slowly turning into a reality with more subscribers than ever.