Sports media - subscriptions, preferences, industry thoughts

Discussion in 'Non Sports' started by bmradio99, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. bmradio99

    bmradio99 Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Now that the Indy Star has fully firewalled a lot of Butler content – no longer allowing the couple of free articles per month – do you find it worth it? What other avenues do you like, and what's worth paying for? What's a realistic direction for media companies now and in the future?

    In general, let's keep this focused on sports coverage, but note that news journalism, local area, etc., are certainly part of the discussion.

  2. seadawg

    seadawg Well-Known Member

    Content is usually a day or two ahead with digital subscribers as opposed to actually getting the newspaper even in Indy.
  3. bumba

    bumba Well-Known Member

    I paid $30 for a year of The Athletic and it is easily worth the money. I agree with others that journalists have real jobs and deserve to be paid. I haven't subscribed to the digital IndyStar but more than likely will now that the paywall is up.

    I think it's ironic when people complain about paying Gannett $5-10 a month for original BU content. They're probably the same folks that pay Netflix $15 per month to watch twenty year old reruns of The Office. It's all about how you perceive and value the content.
    bmradio99 likes this.
  4. bmradio99

    bmradio99 Well-Known Member VIP Member

    I live in Chicago and don't have strong Indy sports ties outside of Butler, so local Indianapolis coverage isn't important to me. I have a hard time stomaching the current digital package: $5 per month for 3 months, $7.99 per month after. I 100% think that's worth it for central Indiana residents, or if you're interested in all Indy sports coverage. (For reference, I subscribe to The Athletic, one national newspaper, and one hyper-local news source in Chicago. Both major local papers allow enough free articles per month that I'm seldom hit with the paywall.)

    As I said in a different thread, I was once a digital-only Indy Star subscriber for Butler coverage. I joined with a promotional rate that made it very much worth it. Reading your favorite team's local beat writer's work is generally going to be the most consistently good information out there. But my god, the Gannett digital experience is so bad. I'd constantly get logged out, random unrelated video auto-plays all over the place, and the pages are a caricature of what banner-and-popup-ad websites are like. It was frustrating, and while I contacted the Star to express my displeasure, I know that they're in no power to do anything about it. That's the Gannett template for local papers. All they can do is log my dissatisfaction as a statistic. Okay. I'll probably subscribe again once the season starts so I can read David Woods's articles, but man, I'm not looking forward to jumping through so many hoops so a paying subscriber can read about a college basketball team.

    I know it sounds like I work for them, and I promise I don't, but The Athletic is so good. (Base rate is $5/month, but there's always new subscriber discounts.) For better or for worse, they've poached so many good writers from other outlets. Dustin Dopirak, the beat writer for IU, Purdue, and Butler basketball, certainly is an IU lean, but does a fantastic job of Butler and general CBB coverage. It's not stats-and-facts reporting all the time, but more in-depth storylines. Cool stuff. And their digital experience is 100% ad-free. The mobile app and mobile site are fantastic. It's seriously a model I'd love to see others follow. IMO, The Athletic is doing what Sports Illustrated should have done – fee-based, true journalism, long reads, etc., and get away from doing what ESPN, CBS, etc. are doing. Now, they're going to be relegated to the scrap-heap of history after a company takeover that'll turn it into SB Nation with a fancier name. What a bummer.
    (Now, if any of you want to subscribe to The Athletic, use my referral link for a 40% off introductory rate.)
    joliebeth23 likes this.
  5. Irishdawg

    Irishdawg Banned User

    As others have stated, a subscription to the Athletic is well worth it unless Butler basketball is the only team you follow, and even then, it's not bad. The in-depth articles that Dustin puts out are on par with the kind of stuff Zak Keefer (also at the Athletic now) would put out when he was covering Butler.

    I did do a promotional subscription to IndyStar last year or the year before, but Woods' writing style on the majority of his articles were simply putting the facts of what happened out there, and as someone who is not just a casual fan of the team, it just doesn't cut it for me.
    SpartanDawgs and bmradio99 like this.
  6. butlerguy03

    butlerguy03 Well-Known Member

    I've been on-board with The Athletic for 2 years now - an early subscriber. I worked in media for 20 years, and understand you must have income to provide good content and believe the way The Athletic is doing it the right way with a good app, minimal problems, and starting national, then creating smaller niches.

    I actually think if someone did it right, you could create a hard news website very similar to The Athletic - start with big, national news, start hiring away beat writers, and develop localized versions. If I only had 100 million start up cash....
    joliebeth23 and NCJon like this.
  7. Hinkle

    Hinkle Well-Known Member

    The Athletic is easily worth the money (especially if you subscribe at the right time...I think I got a year for something like $24 around Black Friday). The Colts content is A+; I'd imagine it's similar for other NFL teams.
  8. TheDawgDub95

    TheDawgDub95 Well-Known Member

    Dustin is doing a great job at The Athletic. His responses in the comments are really, really good, as well.

    I did the digital Star subscriptions purely for Butler articles. I am hoping for increased Butler media coverage and exposure across multiple channels. The only way that will happen is if we show there is an economically viable demand and interest.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Butler Hoops mobile app
    bmradio99 likes this.
  9. halftime_floor_sweeper

    halftime_floor_sweeper Well-Known Member

    When I can get geniuses like Woody Paige, Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd as part of my cable package, I don't know why I would ever pay for anything else.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
    seadawg, Tentozen and bmradio99 like this.
  10. bmradio99

    bmradio99 Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Emphasis added by me. I agree with you. But here's the thing, and here's where I philosophically differ with how a lot of scared-to-try-new-things media companies operate: research can show you what is and is not in demand. It's backwards to only invest in something once an audience has invested in you to provide that very thing. The challenge is to provide value to that audience so the "cost" of missing out is greater than the cost of entry. Does that require some capital up front and carry a little more risk? Sure. But isn't the whole point of media deregulation that the capital is there?

    TL;DR: if you build it, they will come. IndyStar ain't building anything right now.
  11. NCJon

    NCJon Well-Known Member VIP Member

    I've long thought The Star and Gannett's other newspapers were shooting themselves in the foot by using a "soft paywall" that was easily circumvented with a different browser or a private browsing mode.

    I also think think that they waited too darn long to wall off their own content and its just going to hasten their death spiral. Ten years ago I would've paid for a Star subscription so I could read their Butler, IndyCar and Pacers coverage as well as the news from my hometown that still interests me. Today? They've pared their product so close to the bone that the only one of those that interests me is Butler and it's not quality enough for me to feel like I need to pay for it - even if it's still a relatively low cost. I'm not sure they even have an IndyCar writer at the moment. They rarely write about my hometown anymore, and when they do it's fluff or the occasional crime. It's been a very long time since I felt their NBA coverage was something I couldn't get elsewhere.

    I subscribe to The Athletic, which is great because I get that customized front of teams and leagues I'm interested in, which now thankfully includes some Butler coverage. I'm still not sure their long-term plan is viable. They've taken on a huge amount of salary using venture capital to cover the costs while they build their subscriber base, but they need that base to be incredibly large to maintain what they're putting out and I'm not sure they'll get there. It feels like The National all over again. Those who worked in media and are old enough will know what I'm talking about. It was a great - absolutely great - daily sports newspaper that only lasted a few years because the economics just didn't work.

    I also have digital subscriptions to a national and a local newspaper, though I'm thinking about letting the local go. I read a little of the local's sports coverage and none of the national newspaper's.

    If I had answers for where I thought the media was going, I'd be trying to launch a news outlet. I spent a good bit of my graduate work 10 years ago studying media economics. It was clear then that what's happening to newspapers and local tv news was going to happen. The only question was how fast. The problem is that none of the other models are really viable. Or at least that's the conclusion I came to and the reason I decided to shift my career in a different direction.

    Subscription-based models, like the Athletic, require a huge number of subscribers - even on the local level. Advertising-based models can't support sustained quality content anymore because revenue on digital advertising is too low. You can make money, but not putting out the kind of content that newspapers used to. Non-profit models only seem to work if the particular outlet has one or more angel investors willing to drop enough money in to create a significant endowment. Ever try to find an angel investor?

    I often think about what an incredible local news outlet I could put together if I had a couple million a year to cover salaries. The problem is finding the revenue stream for that couple million is like hunting for a unicorn. So many great journalists have left the business and are doing soul sucking work elsewhere because everybody's gotta eat.
    bmradio99 and UDDawg like this.
  12. NCJon

    NCJon Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Oh, and I mentioned this in a thread a few months back, but this seems like a good place to repeat it:

    If y'all think The Star is bad now (it is), just wait until this Gannett merger with GateHouse happens. It'll be so much worse, you'll pine for the "meh" they're putting out today.
    bmradio99 and BU Fan in Illinois like this.
  13. joliebeth23

    joliebeth23 Well-Known Member

    I love The Athletic! It's well worth the money.
  14. Red1972

    Red1972 Well-Known Member

    All for The Athletic! The Star is a shell of its former self, I do have an online subscription that costs $10 a month.
  15. BoyGeoff

    BoyGeoff Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Same for me. I would drop the Star altogether but my wife prefers to keep it. The content for the most part is not really news.

    Sent from my iPhone using Butler Hoops
    SRG likes this.
  16. iluvsnow

    iluvsnow Well-Known Member

    Focused in depth coverage, if you need that, is worth paying to receive. I have found that I can get virtually everything I need from Twitter. Love to keep apprised on national news and politics, weather and of course....sports. By following dozens of national news reporters/outlets, regional and national meteorologists and sports reporters, teams. coaches, etc.....I get news, weather and the old slogan used to go...."First, fast and factual"....and with lots of opinion. Twitter is my go to source for what I need...and its free.
  17. NCJon

    NCJon Well-Known Member VIP Member

    This is a story about the death of a local paper. It could be written 100 times over about 100 different communities. The papers in larger cities like Indianapolis are hanging on - for now - but they won't be far behind. The industry is terminally ill. The death of newspapers will have a tremendous effect on our society, and it won't be for the better.
    bmradio99 likes this.
  18. fdr

    fdr Well-Known Member

    I will certainly lament the loss of good, local investigative journalism. The most obvious example is the Star and the Nassar/MSU scandal. The rest I'm not so sure about. Most people seem to "watch" their news on hyperpartisan TV or internet shows, which is more a consequence of the internet than the death of the newspaper industry, in my humble opinion. Is there a PragerU video on the withering newspaper industry? That would be something.
  19. Staxawax

    Staxawax Well-Known Member

    I too like Twitter, but more and more there are posts that are linked to paysights like The Athletic or IndyStar. Frustrating!

    Sent from my iPad using Butler Hoops mobile app
  20. SchlabbaDawg

    SchlabbaDawg Active Member

    Yeah, I only care about Butler for Indy Sports, so I don't have an interest in joining. I subscribe to the Athletic, and I absolutely love the quality and coverage.
    ButlerNut likes this.

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