Oilersnation parent company sold to Canadian digital sports media firm

·2 min read
Jay Downton is the founder of The Nation Network, home of the popular hockey fansite Oilersnation. (Submitted by Jay Downton - image credit)
Jay Downton is the founder of The Nation Network, home of the popular hockey fansite Oilersnation. (Submitted by Jay Downton - image credit)

Edmonton-based The Nation Network has been acquired by Canadian sports media company Playmaker for $15 million.

Popular for its original hockey fan site Oilersnation, The Nation Network offers content in the form of articles, podcasts and videos for sports like hockey, baseball and basketball.

Jay Downton, founder of The Nation Network, told CBC's Edmonton AM the acquisition last Tuesday still feels surreal.

"But also now, you know, we're part of a bigger entity now and we've got plans and they're going to come and help us, so for me, it's like roll up my sleeves, like OK, back to work," he said.

Downton said despite the sale, the company will continue to work on its original mission of expanding Oilersnation.

"My hidden agenda and secret passion behind doing all this — building The Nation Network — is putting the Oilers on the national global stage, like making it the [Manchester United] of the NHL," he said.

Manchester United is a globally prominent soccer team, a member of the English Premier League.

'Energetic and passionate fans'

Downton said the combination of professional journalism from its mainstream writers and the "very energetic and passionate fans that create content for us," helped the site succeed.

The Nation Network not only offers entertainment in the form of funny and humorous content but also in-depth analysis and statistics, Downton said.

Downton originally launched the Oilersnation hockey blog in 2007, writing articles, incorporating social media like Twitter, Instagram and, later on, including elements like podcasts, videos and even offering resources and tools for fantasy sports betting.

When starting the company, Downton and his colleagues wanted a business that "fit into our lifestyle of just being diehard Edmontonians and diehard Edmonton hockey fans," as well as a one that would make "car payments, get season tickets or golf memberships," he said.

But it grew beyond the Edmonton Oilers to include other hockey teams as well as baseball and basketball.

While other sports teams have their own websites, sites like his can complement them, he said.

"The important thing with us is authenticity is pivotal in representing the fans," he said. "That is the core value of our brand and we'll always stand by that."

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