Gator Country signs affililation deal with ESPN

When Gator Country officially took the giant leap of faith by going independent seven weeks ago, it was with the promise to our faithful, loyal customers that we would continue to upgrade our product continually so that you would be part of the best college sports website in the country. We like to think we’ve upheld our end of the bargain and now we’re going one step further — Gator Country has signed an affiliation deal with ESPN!

Sometime next week, all Gator Country subscribers (monthly and annual) will have access to ESPN Insider premium information and will receive ESPN The Magazine for free. Plus, subscribers will be able to access ESPN databases, writers, and proprietary ESPN content.

Gator Country will still be independent, still able to forge its own path in covering the Florida Gators better than anyone else, but by affiliating with the name that has become synonymous with sports news worldwide, we’ll have access to the most powerful sports network in the world and that can only mean more advantages for our members.

ESPN’s vast lineup of writers and broadcasters will be available to us at Gator Country. We’ll be able to use their expert analysis, link to their videos and we’ll be able to bring their experts to our site for in-depth chats and reports that we’ve not been able to do in the past.

“Gator Country has truly hit the big time. It’s always been my goal to make this the best college website in the country, bar none, and this is an opportunity that we felt was too good to pass up,” said publisher Raymond Hines. “By affiliating with ESPN, we have the chance to provide our customers with even more in-depth and breaking news and they’ll be able to utilize ESPN’s vast resources for more information, more stats, more opinions and more analysis.

“This is a two-way street. Gator Country will provide content for the Florida team pages at ESPN. In return, Gator Country will be able to syndicate Florida-themed content items and videos presented on ESPN.

“One area that you will see a bold new product is in the area of recruiting. Thanks to ESPN, we’re going to take recruiting coverage to a whole new level. One of the things that has impressed me so much as we have worked out this new affiliation with ESPN is ESPN’s willingness to listen to us about recruiting matters. Just like us, they want to be the best, so I think you’re going to love what you see of football and basketball recruiting coverage.”

Gator Country Managing Editor Franz Beard says that the new affiliation is going to seriously impact the coverage and analysis of all Gator sports.

“Here’s one of the many things I like about this new affiliation,” he said. “We’re going to be able to tap into ESPN’s resources and get first hand analysis from some of the best people in the business … we’re going to be able to bring the experts to you like never before.

“Another thing that pleases me is that we will be able to cover Gators in the pros like nobody else. Thanks to our affiliation with ESPN, we’ll have all the stats, the latest stories, and plenty of good analysis on how our Gators are doing in every pro sport. We’ll be able to closely follow the careers of Gators once they leave the campus and that’s only going to make our website better. I think Ray hit a grand slam when he was able to seal this deal with ESPN. It’s win-win for everyone!”

Associate Editor Bob Redman, who heads up Gator Country’s football recruiting efforts among his many duties, says the affiliation with ESPN is going to help Gator Country expand its recruiting coverage.

“When I found out from Ray about the possibility of aligning with ESPN to provide more information than we ever thought possible to Gator fans, I knew there was no better place for Gator Country and myself to be,” said Redman. “I am fully convinced that ESPN is going to put all their resources behind developing an outstanding recruiting product that will become the standard for recruitniks to turn to.

“I really believe that this partnership with ESPN is going to allow us to open more doors than ever before and that we’re going to be able to give you more and better coverage of the Florida Gators than you ever thought possible.”

Mark McLeod, Gator Country’s long time senior columnist who heads the new Gator Country Radio Show division of the company, says that this is a good move for both Gator Country and its loyal customers.

“ESPN started much like Gator Country,” said McLeod. “They were both concepts that most sports fans found tremendous interest in seeing just how they would evolve. Now that we’re together, Gators fans will be eager to see just how we can provide further insight and access into promoting University of Florida athletics. We promise not to disappoint.”

Mike Hodge, Editor of the new Gator Country Magazine, added, “It was a no-brainer for me to join Gator Country. ESPN is a major player with resources that will only help Gator Country and more importantly, its subscribers.”

Stay tuned to next week for details on how premium subscribers can access ESPN Insider content as well as receive ESPN The Magazine.  We’ll also finally be rolling out our annual subscription packages with a bonus package at a discount for a limited time.