25 Mar 2021

Artificial Intelligence Startup And Ohio Newsroom Provide High School Sports Results To Over 200K Readers During Pandemic

Editor’s note: This blog post was updated in July to provide a comprehensive look at the 2020-21 high school sports season in Central and Southern Ohio.

The mind-bendingly weird 2020-21 high school sports season is over. What did our founding newsroom — and crash test dummy — Richland Source learn about the performance of Lede Ai content during the 2020-21 school year?

Several interesting things, it turns out.


Across the board participation on our crowdsourced data partner, Scorestream, was down as much as 50% from the high points of 2019. This makes a lot of sense. There were less people at the games, fewer games overall, and people had other things on their mind during the pandemic.

The same trends held true in the Richland Source market. Fewer games, fewer attendees, other priorities.

You would think audience numbers would be down too. They weren’t. Here’s what happened with AI generated content published on Richland Source between late August and early June.

But first, some table-setters…

  • No art on any of the content

  • All reporting published automatically with no human intervention

  • Published in the Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and surrounding markets.

  • No organic or paid promotion of any kind. In other words, if people weren’t searching for this information, they weren’t going to bump into it.

Lede AI traffic results on Richland Source during school sports season in 2020-21


Trends from early in the season largely continued. Traffic to Lede AI content was way up on every key metric in the face of a 35% decrease in content volume.

  • Users up 46%

  • Sessions grew 54%

  • Sessions / user up 6%

  • Pageviews up 45%


Users up 46% and sessions up 54% over 2019, while number of articles was down 35%

Why is this happening?

We think there’s a number of factors.

  • Deep linking to previously published content is creating tens of thousands of back links every season, elevating article value and driving better SEO.

  • Over two years, Richland Source has built a well of high school sports results tens of thousands of articles deep. Search results on-site and on Google are now mining a deep, rich content well.

  • COVID-19 might have driven higher search volume for high school sports results.

  • The rise of aggregator apps like NewsBreak is a huge factor. NewsBreak alone saw a 1,750% increase in referrals that led to nearly 75,000 sessions.

Lede AI traffic results on Richland Source during school sports season in 2020-21

What’s next?

The team here is squarely focused on getting clients ready for August 2021, when high school football kicks off across the country once again.

Recent Posts

09 Sep 2023
Associated Press collabs with Lede AI to launch Knight-funded AI tool to automate police report production

A months-long collaborative AI development project between Lede AI and the Associated Press finally saw the light of day in …

Read More
14 Jun 2023
Scoring Big with AI: Analyzing the Explosive Growth of High School Sports Reporting at Richland Source

The results from the 2022-2023 high school sports season are in, and they’re clear as can be. In every metric, …

Read More
09 Mar 2023
Lee Enterprises Uses Lede AI to Publish Thousands of Game Summaries in a Dozen Markets

Nobody was talking about Chat GPT when Lee Enterprises automated a part of their high school sports reporting with Lede …

Read More

Journalism & Robots

Sign up for our monthly newsletter for the 5 things you need to read to stay on top of AI and local news.