The Early Years
On October 31, 1996 the-Ozone was founded for the sole purpose of providing information on Ohio State athletics via the internet.
The founders of the site included Robert C. Bradlee, Theodore R. Saker and John Porentas. Bradlee brought technical expertise to the endeavor, Porentas a passion for Ohio State athletics, and Saker, a practicing attorney, administrative skill.
There was very little in the way of expectations when the site went online. The partners hoped to attract at least 100 visitors. To the astonishment of the founders the number of visitors was in the tens of thousands in the first month of operation.
Porentas provided the vast majority of the content. Saker provided an occasional column under the pen-name “The View”. Bill Kurelic provided recruiting information as a result of a working agreement with him. However, Porentas provided the vast majority of the coverage. The site covered Ohio State football, men’s basketball, men’s hockey, women’s basketball and Ohio State baseball.
While the public accepted the site immediately things were very different with the university and conference. Internet coverage was virtually non-existent. Administrators did not understand the site. That made acceptance as legitimate media very difficult. The university extended very little cooperation as a result. The site persisted however, and eventually became the first web site to be credentialed as media at Ohio State.
The Growth Years
The site earned access to press conferences, but game credentials were much harder to earn. The site remained persistent, however, and one sport at at time gained access to game-day activities. Eventually the site earned game credentials for all sports covered. Photo credentials were also added, but at a slower pace. Eventually, however, the site gained full access for reporters and photographers.
During this time the Internet began to become established as a medium for sports news. The-Ozone was invited to become a part of both Rivals and Scout when those networks came into being. Despite the overtures, the site remained independent. The underlying philosophy of remaining free of charge to all Buckeye fans conflicted with the subscription model of the networks.
Porentas eventually bought the shares of Bradlee and Saker and became the sole operator of the-Ozone.
The Middle Years
Traffic continue to grow as did the demand for news and features. The job of running the site became a full-time job which then required cash for staff support. Travel expenses, bandwidth, and the normal costs of running a business all required money. In keeping with the non-subscription model, the company adopted the advertising model to try to fund itself. Eventually staff writers were added to help with coverage and free up Porentas to work at trying to provide cash flow.
As the-Ozone grew, so did competition on the Internet. All the traditional media outlets established an internet presence and other independent sites came into being to cover OSU sports. Newspapers, television stations, radio stations and magazines all became internet competitors.
The changes on the internet have changed the way that companies operate on the web. The-Ozone did not adapt to recent changes particularly well and to some extent fell behind other sites. The company has recently re-evaluated its operations. A site redesign is the first of a series of improvements planned to improve the site’s competitive in the marketplace.