Back when OilersNation started in 2007 there was a vibrant
series of Oilers blogs that were busily churning out content on a near daily
basis. A young Wanye wanted to be so badly a part of this scene that he
carefully sent each blog a note asking if they wanted to join up and contribute
to OilersNation in exchange for good old fashioned cash money.
No one took us up on our offer and that was how we were
forced to call our own number in the huddle and start blogging to kick things
off around here. Mercifully we were able to recruit the professional team of
professionals that we all get to read every day and our writing skills aren’t
needed quite so much anymore.
Back in ‘07 we read 4-5 blogs on a regular basis. Hilarity
like Covered In Oil, well written pieces at Battle of Alberta, Lowetide’s silky
smooth tomes over at his site. Mc79hockey was making people crazy one article
at a time, and oilfans.com was the best Oilers forum in the business.
Yes, a fellow could get his news from a variety of places
back in those days without having to sift through what those corporate fat cats on Wall
Street wanted us all to read.
FF TO 2015
An astute commenter named Trainreck pointed out yesterday that the
blog roll was hideously out of date. We hadn’t really given it much thought,
there are a lot of spinning plates here at the Nation and the blog roll was one
of those things that sort of gets forgotten – like an Oilers backcheck (ZING)
Upon digging through the links yesterday we were shocked to
find that indeed most Oilers blogs had shut down. As we cleared out the
proverbial shelf the count went down like this:
Blogroll at the start: 26
Still active blogs: 10
Closed down/Inactive: 14
New sites added: 2
Total blogs now: 12
You don’t need any fancy analytical stats to be able to
understand that the oilogosphere has turned into a proverbial ghost town. That
is a pretty grim survival record.
WHY SO BUSY IN THE FIRST PLACE?
One need look no further than the history of Blogger – the
number one free blogging tool for those looking to get into the game – to see that the height of the interest in blogging came right around the time that the
Oilers went on their spine tingling cup run in 2006. That was the year the previously independent Blogger did a complete redesign and moved all its content and architecture onto Google servers in preparation for millions piling onto the service.
It was the new hotness for people interested in expressing
themselves and the Edmonton Oilers had a full bandwagon at the right time to
quickly have the most vibrant blogosphere of any team in the NHL. Indeed “blogging
is such an Oilers fan thing” is a comment we have run into time and time again
when building the Nation Network in other markets.
But that seems to be no longer the case.
WHERE HAS EVERYONE GONE?
So as we sit here looking at the ghost town that
has become the Oilers blog world there are a few possible reasons that a great many
talented folks have packed up their electronic typewriter and left town.
TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED
You could argue that technology has given us new ways to
scream at the Oilers. The most obvious candidate being that Twitter has swooped in and
replaced “blogging” with “microblogging.” Why take the trouble to have to set
up a Blogger account or your make your own site when you can sign up to Twitter
and start yelling within minutes?
You don’t need to have a PHD in computer
science and you get the ultimate wang measuring contest of follower counts.
Blogs are way harder to make and maintain and it was always hard to know who
was the traffic champion.
BLOGGING IS SO 2007
Perhaps tastes have changed. Why start a blog to express yourself when you can
post 1000 selfies an hour on Instagram or play Clash of Clans? Maybe it is more
apparent now that it is hard to make money in blogging and less talented folk see it as a viable option.
Once upon a time it seemed a pretty tempting business opportunity on the surface. Start a blog, get some ads up and running and ostensibly sit
back and wait for the money to wash over you. But every million pageviews only
pays about a grand if you aren’t selling ads yourself – which is a tricky proposition in
This leads to a pretty big financial disincentive to pour
your heart and soul into the keyboard if you are hoping for Maybachs and
private jets coming back in return. These grim economics faced by independent writers gives the Nation Network the abilitiy to expand
into more markets and hire more writers. Although we are killing it, we are a rare exception. There are fewer and fewer companies competing to
pay writers any sort of meaningful money and starting up your own site and
seeing the cash roll in is rarer than an Oilers back check (ZING 2X)
This could be part of the reason there are less sites too –
a small number of companies have sprung up and it may be easier for writers to
join up with an existing site or network than strike out on their own.
THE OILERS SUCK
The Oilers seem to be mired in a bit of a losing streak for
anyone who cares to note. This could be another reason that Oilers related blogging has died off.
Perhaps Oilers blogs closing en masse is the canary in the coal mine showing
that perennial suckitude on the ice has led to the fan base shrinking overall.
The Oilers themselves do little to encourage blogger coverage of the team – whereas other teams like the LA Kings grant bloggers access to the team and issue press passes to a select few. This encourages budding writers to get involved. The Oilers elected to alternately attack or ignore the blogs that faithfully covered their team. This provided less incentive for amateur or up and coming writers to cover the team – no pay, no perks, no bloggers seems to be the case in 2015.
As the guy that can see OilersNation analytics climb year
over year I have a hard time thinking that there are less people interested in
reading about the home team than in 2007. The Nation Network is poised to have 60 million
visitors to our sites in 2015 – this speaks to people’s desire to read
independent coverage of the good ol’ hockey game.
But perhaps people aren’t really in the mood to try to
become an Oilers blogger and rack their brains for another way to write an
article showing that the Oilers are brutal. I know my personal interest in this
has waned of late out of a desire to remain positive about life. I now focus my
time on building the business of the Nation Network and have started new companies instead and now wait for better
days to return chez Oilers.
How the gang of writers here find a way to keep the
content coming day after day is beyond me.
LESS BLOGGING IS BAD FOR BUSINESS
Last fall Canadian Media conglomerate Post Media bought the English titles of Sun Media. Although the Chair of Post Media Rod Phillips (note: HIS NAME IS WHAT?!) said at the time that “the purchase was a ‘strong endorsement’ of the future of the Canadian newspaper industry and ‘made in Canada’ journalism’ that isn’t really the case.
The consolidation of Canadian newspapers and their bottom lines awash in red ink will only mean that the number of mainstream sports journalists will continue to fall. Less people making a living covering hockey will mean that there will be less new sportswriters trying to get in the game and will leave us all with fewer voices to read.
The slim hope that these jobs would be absorbed by the internet seems now to be a distant dream. The fact is that there are fewer writers covering the game than ever before and by 2020 there will soon be no sportswriters under the age of 109.
SO WHO IS LEFT
Take a peek at the newly updated blogroll on the right hand
side of the site. Twelve intrepid sites remain standing, Good folks who sweat
over a keyboard to write about the game they love.
There are some familiar voices if you have been hanging around this part of the
internet for awhile like Black Dog Hates Skunks and the Copper n Blue. There
are also a couple of great new sites too like The Oilers Rig and Oil on Whyte.
Give em a read and leave a comment or two. The only thing worse than trolls in your comments section is deafening silence. These guys are writing good stuff and they merit a read or ten.
IF YOU ARE INTO IT WE ARE INTO YOU
If you have an Oilers related blog and we aren’t featuring
you in the blog roll please hit up email@example.com
If you are thinking about starting a blog and flexing your literary skills we
heartily suggest you get a stick and get in the game. It’s a great time assuming your team isn’t the worst team in the past 15 years.
Besides -it’s getting lonely in here.