Satirical mastermind and cultural lampooner, The Onion, has just launched a brand new website for SportsDome, their funny/fake sports web show. The site is a collaboration with Comedy Central, which will be turning the web show into a television show in January.
Anyone familiar with the SportsDome’s current website won’t feel too out of place at the new site. The site features clips from the show, clips from the Onion’s video vault, extended interviews, a “photo finish” picture section and additional resources much like the websites for The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.
What distinguishes the SportsDome site from its new cohort is how the website functions as an extension of the show. Both the Onion and Comedy Central expressed that the site was meant to extend the made-up universe of SportsDome online, rather than just acting as a landing page. In much the same way that Stephen Colbert tweets “in character,” the SportsDome website will feature blog posts, clips, and Twitter accounts that the TV personalities will write as their over-the-top screen personalities. The site itself is meant as a parody.
It will also function as a stripped down sports blog, previewing and teasing sections that may appear on the show or offering coverage on breaking sports news throughout the week. Just as the SportsDome set, sections, and sportscasters are meant to satirize ESPN show’s like SportsCenter, the website was built as a playful send-up of ESPN’s own website.
The website is launching nearly a month before the show’s premiere, allowing the Onion team to test and fiddle with what sections work and how to best deliver content. What you see today may not be the site you see when the show launches. It’s a fairly open approach to developing a site and one that rewards interaction and experimentation.
While a month seems like a long time to kill without a show driving content, SportsDome has the benefit of sitting on more than 10 years of built up videos and stories from The Onion. Expect to see a mix of classic videos and new updates until the show’s official launch on January 11.
One interesting piece of tech is that the site will be hosted on The Onion while Comedy Central will be providing the video technology. The site will be accessible via either The Onion or Comedy Central without the user noticing any switch.
The SportsDome site still has some kinks to iron out. Despite the importance of the blog in extending the SportsDome universe, there is only one stream for blog entries where old stories quickly get bumped below video — the main focus of the site. SportsDome will have to overcome the standard assumption that a show website is just that: A mildly entertaining way to funnel traffic to the show itself.
Still, judging by the site and the people behind it, the SportsDome is at least attempting to do something different with the standard show website by making it part of a larger experience and boosting it with an impressive catalog of material. The Onion is adept at creating online communities and completing a thorough mockery of their subject through various media.
As Baratunde Thurston, Web Editor of The Onion, said of the site’s test phase: “It’ll be awesome on Tuesday, it will blow your face off on [January] 11th.”
What do you think: Is the site awesome or is it a rehash of The Onion’s original site. Do you think it can help expand the range of the show or does it just look like any-old show website? What will it have to do to blow your face off? Let us know in the comments below.
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