Home Money Deadspin’s new owners reveal their plans: gambling content, but without AI

Deadspin’s new owners reveal their plans: gambling content, but without AI

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Deadspin's new owners reveal their plans: gambling content, but without AI

This week, former contributors to the Deadspin sports blog noticed something alarming: Their work had disappeared from the site’s archives. There was no obvious pattern as to why posts on topics like ESPN’s attempt to create a “Black Grantland” and George RR Martin’s work ethic had disappeared, but to many students it probably seemed intentional. Deadspin had recently been purchased by new owner, Lineup Publishing, with Links with the online betting industry.. Was this an attempt to sanitize the history of a once beloved blog?

Lineup tells WIRED that the disappearance story was actually a simple mistake. “We are very sorry to anyone who was concerned that we were going to eliminate their work,” Tim Booker, one of the company’s co-founders, wrote by email. “It is not our intention at all. Ever.” Many deleted posts have now been restored, and he says the soft deletions were a “hiccup” when Lineup migrated Deadspin’s archives to a new platform. But not all posts are now as good as new: Tuesday night , former contributor Josh Gross pointed out that one he wrote in 2015 now has a different and incorrect signature.

Through a series of emails with WIRED, Booker laid out what appears to be the first public statement of his plans for Deadspin. They include direction toward gambling content, but no AI-generated blog posts.

Lineup’s acquisition of Deadspin has made some former contributors and readers nervous, because even by the chaotic standards of digital media, the blog has had a tumultuous history. Founded in 2005, Deadspin has spent more than two decades building a loyal readership with irreverent and far-reaching editorial scope. The staff rebelled and quit en masse in protest after private equity firm Great Hill Partners bought Deadspin’s parent company in 2019 and tried to restrict its editorial freedom. Many founded a new media cooperative called Desertor.

Deadspin hired replacement bloggers, but the site’s reputation never recovered. Some critics nicknamed him “Vichy dead turn.” The blog faced new controversy when it was sued for defamation by the family of a boy who was wrongly accused of wearing blackface. (The case is still ongoing.)

When Great Hill sold Deadspin in March 2024, it was not immediately clear why Lineup Publishing, a new entity, had purchased the blog. Writers Michael Gresko and Ernie Smith searched for more information and discovered that one of the new owners appeared to be a man named Max Noremo, with ties to online gambling. (Noremo is, in fact, Booker’s co-founder.) Jason Koebler of 404 Media unearthed interviews in which Noremo discussed how to make money with SEO and affiliate marketing by getting domain names with a strong reputation, and suggested that the new Deadspin would function as a gambling referral site.

In his emails to WIRED, Noremo co-founder Booker confirmed that his version of Deadspin will include “gambling content.” But he insists it won’t be just another SEO click farm. “We’ve seen some people worry that we’re turning it into a spam blog, but that’s not the case,” he says. “We don’t want to ruin it.”

Deadspin’s new ownership comes at a time when sports media is increasingly intertwined with sports betting. Most major media outlets, including ESPN, NBC, CBS, The Ringer, The Athletic and Bleacher Report, have partnered with betting companies. What might once have been surprising is increasingly accepted as standard practicealthough some outliers, such as Deserter, still raise alarms about how ethically confusing the combination of gambling and journalism can be, which can often change betting lines.

Booker says he and Noremo really want to get into the media business. The couple “recently met through friends,” he says, and decided to find a website to purchase and renovate it. Booker says they plan to add more lifestyle and pop culture stories.

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