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XLMedia has signed a commercial partnership with the Star Tribune Media Company, the largest news organisation in the US Upper Midwest.

As part of this partnership, XLMedia will be the exclusive provider of sports betting commercial content for Star Tribune, which attracts more than 7 million unique monthly digital users. 

Headquartered in Minnesota, the Star Tribune has been awarded seven Pulitzer Prizes and consistently ranks among the top five in audience numbers nationwide.

Market potential

Although there’s no definitive timeline for online sports betting regulation, the affiliate business highlighted that Minnesota ranks among the top five states for daily fantasy sports usage and has a sizeable sports audience, suggesting a potentially lucrative market once regulations are in place.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Star Tribune and are eager to begin collaborating with their talented team as we drive new revenue opportunities for both businesses,” said XLMedia North America president Kevin Duffey.

“Publisher partnerships continue to be an area of focus for our business, and this new partnership is another milestone in our plan to expand our North American footprint and drive unique revenue opportunities both in 2024 and in the years to come.”  

This strategic alliance allows Star Tribune to capitalise on XLMedia’s expertise in monetising engaged audiences, not only in Minnesota but also in other Midwest states where sports betting is legalised. 

XLMedia will employ its media partnership model to create commercial content, manage commercial deals with regulated sportsbook operators, and implement monetisation strategies. 

“We’re excited to partner with XLMedia to provide our readers with this highly engaging commercial content,” said Paul Kasbohm, Star Tribune EVP and chief revenue officer.

“XLMedia brings tremendous credibility and expertise, allowing us to stay ahead of the curve and offer our audience the latest information to make their own informed decisions about this rapidly evolving space.”   

US challenges

This deal is XLMedia’s latest attempt to bolster its presence in the US, addressing challenges it has faced in establishing a strong foothold in the market.

In December, the affiliate business revised its revenue and adjusted EBITDA projections downward for the full year of 2023, citing the departure of its key partner, Barstool Sportsbook, from the market.

As a result, the company anticipates its 2023 revenue to range between $50m and $52m, with adjusted EBITDA expected to be in the range of $12m to $14m. 

Even at the upper end of these projections, this would represent a 27.6% decline in revenue and a 16.2% decline in adjusted EBITDA compared to 2022 figures.

Investors reacted positively to the news, and XLMedia shares were trading more than 5% higher today. However, the company’s shares fell 68.7% in the trailing 12 months

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