With its latest local news initiative, Google wants to give sports fans the chance to read coverage from all of the best reporters who cover professional and college teams at local news publications across the US and Canada. To that end, the search giant is helping the Local Media Consortium, a group made up of local media companies, launch The Matchup.
In its initial iteration, The Matchup will allow you to read content from the publication covering the organization your hometown team is either about to face or recently played without paying an additional subscription. So say you live in Denver and follow the Avalanche, the next time they play the Stars, you'll be able to read articles from The Dallas Morning News. The Local Media Consortium says it used Google's fast-loading AMP web tech, and a framework developed by the Distributed Media Lab, to build that functionality.
At a later date, the project will expand to include a dedicated sports news hub. The website will feature a dashboard where you'll be able to set the specific teams, leagues and players you want to follow. You’ll be able to access all of the content on The Matchup as long as you have a subscription with one of the local publications that's taking part in the project. According to the Local Media Consortium, all subscription revenue will go back to the local companies providing content for The Matchup, and any money the hub makes off of sponsorships will be shared between them as well.
Over the last few years, Google has launched several other efforts to support local journalism. In 2018, for instance, the company started providing free two-year G Suite licenses to publications with fewer than 500 employees. More recently, the company announced Project Oasis, a research initiative that aims to develop resources for the broader local news ecosystem. Compared to those efforts, The Matchup feels more immediately tangible.