OKTC's Top Markets For the 2012 Football Season

Published on: December 11, 2012 | Written by: Clay Travis

I'm a huge fan of Google analytics because it's incredibly addictive.

I can sit here in real time and see exactly where our OKTC readers are coming from across the country. What's more, I can see the rise of mobile and I can even see you, the person, who just typed "KLIFF KINGSBURY SHIRTLESS" all in caps.

Stop it, Mom, just stop it.

The picture of Kingsbury shirtless arrived from a Texas A&M fan who included this OKTC mantra from the mailbag about a month ago, "Remember, it's not gay if it's Kliff Kingsbury."

2012 has been an absolutely massive year for Outkick. For most of 2011 we were scrambling just trying to prove that an independent site like this could exist. 2012 is our first full calendar year, the time when we added a major national presenting sponsor -- thanks Bud Light -- and really blew up on the national stage in terms of traffic and prominent media placement. OKTC's platform is only going to grow in 2013. One big part of that should be announced this week, but more will be coming.  

All of it will be good news.

Since I've been completely open about our site traffic from the get-go, I thought I'd share our markets and compare the 2011 football season with the 2012 football season. 

There's a couple of reasons to do this, first, on a day-by-day basis it's incredibly difficult to discern definite patterns. There's a lot of data to consider, so I like to take a step back and examine things from a broader perspective occasionally.  

Second, I'm fascinated by the value that the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri have brought to the SEC.

We're a tiny part of the overall sports marketplace, but I think we're a representative one. That is, our growth in readership is reflective of the overall growth in the SEC. We're not just a Southern website, but that's our base. The markets that Texas A&M and Mizzou have brought into the SEC have been fertile and energetic. (Much like the coeds who spend all day trying to figure out how to sleep with Kliff Kingsbury).

So I decided to break out our data from 2011 and compare it with 2012. To do so I decided to set my date just a couple of days before kickoff and then end it with the Army-Navy game. Basically, that way we'd cover the entire scope of the 2011 and 2012 regular seasons.

2011's football season vs. 2012's football season

In 2011 we had 727,000 unique visitors to OKTC from August 27th to December 8th.

In 2012 we had 1.45 million unique visitors from August 27th to December 8th.

That's a massive growth rate that's reflective of y'all's willingness to share our articles and get your friends visiting the site. I need to break out the demographics of our unique visitors, but using Twitter as a rough approximation of our audience, I'm confident that OKTC's audience is both younger and better educated than just about any sports website in the country. We also have a ton of smart women, much more smart women as a percentage of our overall readership than just about any sports site in the country. (Don't worry, there are also plenty of dumb Alabama fans too).    

I focus on unique visitor numbers because those are the numbers I want to grow the most. Page views can be manipulated much easier -- hello slideshows! -- than unique visitors can. For instance, we grew our page views much more than double and that's despite adding a mobile site that represented a substantial portion of our audience. Mobile sites, at least right now, do not lend themselves to tons of page views. Most mobile readers just click on direct links and read the story they clicked on. (While I focus on unique visitors I will acknowledge that metric is not perfec either. For instance, we could easily triple our unique visitors by going after search more aggressively and just adding a ton of stories for search purposes. So far we haven't done that. Unique visitors isn't a perfect metric, but it's the most reliable. Most of our unique visitors, over 80% are returning readers as well. And that's what i care about the most, that the people who come to OKTC keep coming back to be entertained.)

Fortunately, y'all are also returning on a regular basis, which means we have a very reliable base. Twitter remains our best friend in this respect. In fact, without Twitter a site like mine couldn't exist. That's because OKTC pays nothing for advertising and we rely on over 60% of our traffic for shares through social media. Some of y'all ask why I tweet our articles multiple times like I do. The answer is two-fold: 1. It works. I'm sitting here watching y'all click as I tweet out multiple times. Trust me, if I'm doing something it's because it works. 2. I still write longer pieces. I could break up something like the mailbag or the Starting 11 into seven or eight distinct pieces and tweet out all those links separately. Instead I combine them all and toss out the different pieces that I think people will find attractive. The same person who clicks on a ranking of SEC coaching hires is probably not going to be the same person who clicks on why I think Dana from Homeland should die.

But if I don't Tweet out both Twitter teases there's a good chance I'm missing out on readers. Which means I'm also missing out on those readers sharing it with their friends which means I'm also missing out on those readers sharing it with their friends...you see how this becomes viral. 

I have to constantly think as both a writer and a site manager. And I try to do whatever is best for both me and the site. 

The newest aspect of 2012 has been the growth of the Bullpen. Lots of y'all are submitting articles and our OKTC editor, Lori Kelly, has been doing a good job sifting through and finding the best articles for us to promote. Please keep submitting if you want a chance to do what I do for a living. You've got to write every day. No exceptions.  

Without further ado: 

Here were our top 25 markets in 2011's football season:

1. Nashville

2. Atlanta

3. Houston

4. Birmingham

5. Knoxville

6. New York City

7. Dallas

8. Chicago

9. Baton Rouge

10. Austin, Texas

11. Charlotte

12. Washington, D.C.

13. Memphis

14. St. Louis

15. New Orleans

16. Kansas City

17. Little Rock

18. Minneapolis

19. San Francisco

20. Montgomery

21. Chattanooga

22. Raleigh, North Carolina

23. Columbus, Ohio

24. Los Angeles

25. Lexington, Kentucky

See your city on this list?

Well, how does that list compare with 2012's desktop and mobile numbers? (We added a mobile OKTC site in February of 2012. Prior to that all mobile readers registered under our desktop platform.)

Here were our top 25 markets in 2012: (I'm bolding SEC expansion markets).

Desktop

1. Nashville

2. Houston

3. Knoxville

4. Birmingham

5. New York City

6. Dallas

7. Austin, Texas

8. Atlanta

9. Memphis

10. Chicago

11. Washington, D.C.

12. St. Louis

13. Kansas City

14. San Antonio

15. Chattanooga

16. Charlotte

17. Little Rock

18. Baton Rouge

19. New Orleans

20. San Francisco

21. Los Angeles

22. Denver

23. Raleigh, North Carolina

24. Montgomery, Alabama

25. Jackson, Mississippi

Here were our top 25 mobile markets:

1. New York City

2. Nashville

3. Atlanta

4. Houston

5. Charlotte

6. San Francisco

7. Chicago

8. Dallas

9. New Orleans

10. St. Louis

11. Knoxville

12. Birmingham

13. Washington, D.C.

14. Minneapolis

15. Miami

16. Austin

17. San Antonio

18. Denver

19. Orlando

20. Columbia, MO

21. Boston

22. Raleigh, NC

23. Memphis

24. Los Angeles

25. Columbus, Ohio

Combined Desktop and Mobile Top Ten Markets for OKTC in 2012:

1. Nashville

2. Houston

3. New York City

4. Atlanta

5. Knoxville

6. Chicago

7. Dallas

8. Charlotte

9. Birmingham

10. San Francisco

...

One of the amazing things about analytics is watching new markets bloom. Out of nowhere San Franciso has become the top mobile market in the country for OKTC. Look at the 2011 numbers. San Franciso was the twentieth most popular market we had. It was number six overall in OKTC for mobile and it was our top mobile market in the country for November. Maybe all those readers are venture capitalists trying to find out how to make some money off OKTC, but I tend to think it's an interesting window into how displaced fans share stories and sites that they love. It makes sense that San Francisco, the most "social" city in the country would have the fastest growth rates.  

My bet is that there are a ton of displaced Southerners in San Francisco who are ravenous for news about their homeland's teams. 

Either that or being a gay muslim has just won me the city. 

You can also see that in our other markets, would you have bet that Chicago and New York City would have both been top six markets for OKTC?

Without the data, I wouldn't have bet that. 

We know, of course, that the populations of both cities are massive, but would you have really bet that there were enough displaced southerners in those cities to make them top OKTC markets? I wouldn't have. But they crave stories about their teams more than anything because the media around them is covering a bunch of teams that they really don't care about that much. 

Enter OKTC. 

When I started OKTC I thought our base would be five cities where I knew I had a large audience already: Nashville, Birmingham, Atlanta, Knoxville and Memphis. By the end of 2012, just four of those markets are even in our top ten. And predicting our other six would have been difficult.

Anyway, I'm not sure how many of y'all really care about our markets, but I find this data fascinating and now that we've finished another college football regular season I just want to say thanks to you guys for contributing so much to our success. And hello to our Minneapolis readers. I never would have predicted all of y'all.

Lots of good news coming. 

Stay tuned.  

And remember, it's not gay if it's Kliff Kingsbury.