OT: NYT on "The Athletic"

Submitted by Swayze Howell Sheen on October 24th, 2017 at 7:33 AM

Article in NYT about "The Athletic" a new sports journalism cite. Paywalled, and focused only on sports. Hiring journalists in various spots around the city (often away from the local newspaper). Trying to kill the local newspapers sports efforts by replacing them with something better.

I was wondering: does anybody on here read this thing? Comments on its quality, etc.? I do note they have Detroit (and thus, M sports) as one of their locales.



Clarence Beeks

October 24th, 2017 at 7:43 AM ^

I think they have a good idea, but the way they have approached it with such arrogance isn’t serving them well. Just being nice, you know... basic people skills... would go a long way on the PR side, and I think they’ve misssd the mark on that.


October 24th, 2017 at 6:30 PM ^

yeah, total jerks.  But yeah, if you're given that interview and that platform, I guess talking crap about the competition is what you do?  And the "bleeding them out" and "gonna make it very hard on them" thing is a lot of gamesmanship.  Sounds like they're trying puff out their chests hoping the local newspapers will give up or something.

It's a good idea, in theory.  There is a market for premium content for a nominal subscription fee.  Kenpom has proven that.  Insider has proven it? I assume?  Since it's still a thing.

But do people read local newspapers because a beat writer is so good that they'd follow them to a subscription platform?  I don't think so, but I guess they're betting that's the case. Maybe "connections" matter more than I think compared to a press pass.

I wouldn't think their competition is local newspapers given all the other options available online.

The challenge they'll have is truly getting and retaining talent that gives people a reason to subscribe.


Everyone Murders

October 24th, 2017 at 7:53 AM ^

Their business model seems to be based on the idea that their content will be so great and monopolized that people will pay them dearly for it, which ... we'll see.  The reason that the NYTimes, WSJ and Washington Post can get away with requiring subscriptions is that they have a proven product and quality level that is well-known to their respective audiences.  And those three aren't really relying on their sports pages for readership.

I'll be curious to see if their model works, but the founders interviewed seem to fancy themselves as awfully clever.  Maybe they are, or maybe they're just trust-fund babies with a plan.  It will be interesting to see if they learn to listen to their marketplace.


October 24th, 2017 at 1:26 PM ^

"my news source is good your news source is bad rawr!"


He didn't say anything close to that. He said non sports web sites, specifically news sites, cater to their audiences politicaly. This is very true on every single side of politics. It's not inviting any kind of partison debate. *You* invited any and all debate and you're blatantly lying about what he said. 


October 24th, 2017 at 3:30 PM ^

Hopefully this will clarify:

"I think the reason those papers get away with paywall articles is that they use politics as a way to cater to their fanbases."

the "those papers" was in reference to the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal mentioned in the comment he replied to. I've killed three threads in the last 2 weeks that started with disparaging mainstream news sources as propaganda, because faith in mainstream news is a current political battleground. I read what I took to be another trigger (followed by a ridiculous comment) for yet another descent into people who don't listen to each other arguing over whom to listen to, and slammed the door on it. Better I seem harsh on a well respected and well-known user than another round of that shit.

I didn't think this comment was innocuous, and I don't think I mistook its intention. If you think I was wrong convince me.


October 24th, 2017 at 9:30 AM ^

Seth, you should reread what I wrote, please. Also, if you want to ban me, go ahead. I've been here since the site started and have had maybe 1 comment deleted ever. I'm not a troll and did not post any kind of trolling comment. 

Don't be an internet tough guy.

Everyone Murders

October 24th, 2017 at 9:48 AM ^

First, I don't have a beef with you, but I see Seth's point.  When you say that traditional newspapers "use politics as a way to cater to their fanbases" you're inviting a political discussion.  I doubt that your comment was intended to open that wormhole, but it could be read that way.  (And your clarifying comment below makes it clear that you were not intending to head that way.)

Second, my point was that a lot of people already valued the NYTimes, Washington Post and WSJ before they went to an on-line subscription product.  The Athletic is skipping past that part, assuming that its product will be so superior that the readership will gladly pay to view their product.

I'm not convinced that's a winning business model.  When some news outlets have gone to a pay-to-read-online model, I've typically simply moved on to other outlets - there's a lot of good writing out there.  I have a lot of company in that regard.   


October 24th, 2017 at 9:50 AM ^

Exactly, there should be a lengthy trial subscription model to at least get readers interested in the product before closing it up with a paywall.  It's hubris to think they can do this.  Maybe I'm wrong, and I've been wrong a lot with internet startups, but there is no "built in" audience for this right now.


October 24th, 2017 at 9:53 AM ^

I think the "built-in audience" is all the people online who claim to only want print sources/articles instead of videos. As far as I know, The Athletic is mostly print, and has any videos/podcasts cleary marked.

Whether or not they reach that audience remains to be seen


October 24th, 2017 at 9:54 AM ^

Sorry, I completely agree that the WaPo, NYT... already had paying subscribers and were very established at the time they charged for subscriptions and the Athletic is skipping this.

I think a new subscription based site would work in a field like politics, but not in sports. There aren't generally "sides" in sports. I understand we had the fire Hoke/ keep Hoke crowd, but if you take a team like Michigan, what can you possibly write about that people will pay for? Insider knowledge/ recruiting info, but what else isn't free? I guess I'd pay for Tom Brady or another former player's unbiased take on the team. Maybe that's a better model?

panthera leo fututio

October 24th, 2017 at 12:24 PM ^

Subscriptions to NYTimes, WaPo, etc. are a lot like NPR donations -- my hunch is that people are mostly choosing to pay for content that they'd consume either way because they think it's important and want it to remain funded. I say this because, with the two papers I mentioned anyway, paywalls are so easily subverted by using an incognito browser window.

His Dudeness

October 24th, 2017 at 2:31 PM ^

It's their blog! Not yours.

Jesus, how hard is that to understand?

When you come into my house, I make the rules. If you don't want to take your pants off at the door then don't come in. This isn't a fucking democracy. You thinking something is stupid does NOT change anything. Get over yourself. Jesus.

Clarence Beeks

October 24th, 2017 at 11:20 AM ^

I think this deserves some clarification, in light of what jblaze actually wrote, otherwise there are going to be an awful lot of people here, very long time posters included, wondering where the "ban" line is. Is it just that he stated the words politics (without stating anything about politics)?  This is truly an honest question, from someone who has been here a really long time...


October 24th, 2017 at 1:30 PM ^

How in the world is insinuating that the aformentioned sites cater to their audiences ban worthy?? I think most would agree that 99% of news sites build their audiences primarily through political catering. It's more than fair to say that any political website will have far more bias than any non-local team sports site/paper. 


The only infowars BS going on here is from you. I don't give a damn if you think he's wrong, the fact that you automatically decry his comment as infowars crap and threaten a ban is disgusting.


October 24th, 2017 at 10:53 AM ^

What a paranoid, ridiculous, fact-free opinion. These places have long-established credibility, even despite the onslaught of the internet, and that's why they still operate. Politics has little to do with it. And their sports coverage accounts for just a small amount of their income. Also, the three papers are very different. The WSJ is Republican. And you're an idiot.


October 24th, 2017 at 4:39 PM ^

I have no idea if their business model will be profitable, but their content is far superior to anything the other sport pages put out.  Rather than hot take-confirmation bias, the journalists go out of their way to get sources and data of multiple types to inform their writing.  Plus they have Brendan Quinn.  I think it is well worth the $48 bucks a year to get a broad selection (geographical and sport/league) of quality content that  informs and is pleasurable to read.


October 24th, 2017 at 7:55 AM ^

They farm their stories to stringers in local areas.  Michigan is covered by Brendan Quinn from MLive and Max Bultman from the Michigan Daily and Sporting News.  You can most likely read the UM coverage for free elsewhere.