Fundamental change in athletics

Writing in Bloomburg, Jerry Smith and Lucas Shaw published a story Monday morning reporting that the site is considering advertising on its site;

Since its debut in 2016, The Athletic has been heralded as a model for how sports journalism can survive on subscription revenue alone. Its founders now understand that it only goes so far.

“When everything is paid, you limit the audience you can reach every day,” co-founder Alex Mather said in an interview last week. “For us to get to 5 or 10 million subscribers, we need to reach more sports fans, get them a taste of our product, find ways to bring that time into our universe and engage them and hopefully become friends. paid subscriber”.

In many ways, this is a fundamental change in how The Athletic has done business and presented itself.

A subscriber-only model that wasn’t a traditional online journalism paywall (which is simply the freemium model where you get a few stories for free before you subscribe), but instead required a subscription to read any content; that A defining feature of The Athletic since launch and during the 2017-2018 growth period. This is what made it different from other sports media at the time.

Galen Clavio and I researched the “Why I Joined The Athletic” columns that were ubiquitous in 2017 and 2018. One of the main things we found in those essays was that the lack of advertising on the site was an important feature of The. Athletic. One of the primary frameworks Gallen found was what we called the “Selling Model,” where reporters promoted a subscription model that allowed readers to pay for sports news in a digital world where most news is free.

A big part of this selling proposition for readers was the lack of advertising. From our study.

The writers consistently focused on the ad-free nature of content delivery, apparently responding to well-known consumer complaints about ads and unwanted videos on traditional media sites. “What’s more, the site is as clean as a fresh Zamboni ice sheet. No ads, no annoying pop-ups. Click on the story and it’s right there without having to navigate through the mud” (Russo, 2017, p. 18). “There will be no click bait. There will be no autoplay videos. There will be no advertising for knitting” (Suttles, 2018, p. 5).

Reports over the past few months indicate that The Athletic is on shaky financial ground, that the venture capital investment that fueled the site’s growth several years ago is requiring a level of growth that is not sustainable. Negotiations for the sale were unsuccessful, according to reports from Smith and Shaw. Jacob Donnelly wrote that the next few months are important for the future of the site.

Which makes these changes feel inevitable. And a huge change in the history of the site.

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