The online market for sports has become one of the most lucrative in the business, according to analysts.
A report by Jupiter Research found that sports fans are among the largest consumers of online video and among the biggest online spenders.
The market has become so large that US sports network ESPN has now become one of the 10 most popular video servers on the internet.
The real benefits, however, could be reaped by smaller local publications and sites, according to researchers.
Analyst Bobby Tulsiani said that smaller sites focused on local teams stand to benefit from the increased interest of sports fans if they can improve their profile.
"To fully tap into this lucrative audience, local sites must make a commitment to search engine optimisation and marketing," said Tulsiani, lead author of the report.
"During the 2008 NBA Finals, none of the local TV or radio stations ranked among Hitwise's top 10 sites for traffic from the search term 'Lakers' or 'Celtics'."
Analysts recommend that, in addition to search traffic and video, local sports sites should focus on promotional tools such as local events and networking agreements with local fan sites and blogs.
The sites should also look to expand beyond ad sales for their income, according to Jupiter Research president David Schatsky.
"Serious sports fans' heavy involvement with shopping and fantasy sports presents an opportunity for revenue streams outside advertising, such as paid video, ticketing and merchandising," he said.
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