Deadspin defectors debut

Phil Plantier

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They're starting their own media company. Congrats to them for getting their kickoff into the New York Times.

https://nyti.ms/39AMfBu
Defector Media is scheduled to start a podcast next month and roll out its website in September, its founders said. Tom Ley, a former features editor at Deadspin, will be the editor in chief.
Sounds great! But their price point is $8/month (not including annual discount). Not sure I'd pay more for snark than I do, currently, for the Times and the Post combined.
 

Snedds

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I'm very excited about this. I've missed checking out the Deadspin site each day, so I'll be subscribing to see what the new site is like.
 

NickEsasky

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Thank God. I had no idea where to go recently to learn everything is bad, all my favorite teams are cheating cheaters who cheat, and nothing in sports is fun or enjoyable.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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It’s all about whether SJH subscribes. That’s the bellwether.
It's $69 a year. I have to think about it.

As Nick Esasky says, if it's old Deadspin under a new banner I won't be interested. I do like Roth and Ratto and Barry and a little bit of Magary, but if they kick off this site with 2020 Why Your Team Sucks then I'll probably pass.
 

nattysez

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I'll see how many times I find myself unhappy I can't see an article due to the paywall and make my decision then.

I agree with Nick - I don't need to pay $69/yr to be told that things I like suck.
 

PseuFighter

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If it does somehow work, the "everyone owns an equal share" model will be tricky as people come and go, in the event that they're actually one day offered a buyout, or need to take on money to survive. I suppose they could vote to change ownership, but it would get really ugly.
 

OurF'ingCity

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This is probably worthy of a separate thread in its own right but, while I completely understand why it's happening and don't begrudge anyone trying to get paid, I am starting to get just as annoyed with the "unbundling" of Internet journalism as I am with the unbundling of TV services. There are numerous Substacks or other newsletter-style publications I'd love to read regularly but each one is basically $50/year or more so I'm left having to choose the 2 or 3 I'm most into. Deadspin 2.0 is a level below that both because of the increased cost (not sure where they pulled the $8-a-month/$69-a-year number as that seems higher than almost every other independent news/commentary site I've seen, including things like The Athletic) and because I was at best a casual reader of theirs (mostly Magary).
 

The Social Chair

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It will be entertaining to watch them all attack each other when this blows up for a myriad of potential reasons.

Not sure a media company can exist solely off of subscriptions from other media members. However, most of these writers are rich kids so it might last a little longer than if it employed writers who need to earn a living.
 

InstaFace

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I would pay to read their stuff - particularly Magary, but also others. They're fuckin brilliant. It's like about 20% too snarky and 50% too anti-Boston for my tastes, but I'll forgive that since in so doing, they avoid most of what makes the overwhelming majority of sports commentary unreadable (or derivative / repetitive).

I don't know if I'll pay more than I pay The Athletic (or, like, Netflix). They just don't have the staff or volume of output. But if there were, say, a Patreon-only model, min $1-2 / month, suggested $8/month, I'd feel comfortable about starting them at like $4-5 or something and seeing how well they entertain me.
 

DJnVa

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If they help bring about the downfall of Portnoy then I'll be glad to pony up for a subscription.

Please note I didn't say Barstool. But Portnoy? Hell yes.
Well, unless they cause him to somehow lose tens of millions of dollars, I think Portnoy will be fine.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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I'm somewhat happy that they're back, but I can't see me forking over $8/month for content that I haven't missed all that much since Deadspin shut down. If reviews here are overwhelmingly positive, I could potentially reconsider.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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$8/month for warmed-over “Boston sucks!” jokes seems like $8/month too much.
Anyone can say "Boston sucks", and many of my Facebook friends do that for free. For that price they should also come to my house to personally spit on me or kick me in the nuts while they're at it.
 

The Social Chair

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One thing that sticks out in the image from the NYTimes article is how white this group is. Not exactly walking the walk here
 

PedroKsBambino

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Many were happy to claim the former Deadspin was profitable on its own---we'll find out how true (or untrue) that was now. I think several of the popular rants of this forum get tested here, with uncertain outcomes right now.

Do they have the courtesy to thank Bill Simmons for the approach they are ripping off here, or are they pretending it is something else? Interesting they are going subscription, which I suspect is about getting cash in the door quickly.

I am glad they are doing it, both because it will clarify what does and doesn't work and also because it's fun to have content creators seeking to own what they are doing and define (or emulate) interesting new business models.
 
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The Social Chair

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Really? Quick count had me seeing five non-white faces. I could be wrong, but 5 out of 18 isn't bad at all. Lauren is trans as well.

EDIT: Maitreyi, Samer, Billy, Giri, Luis are all non-white.
The Ringer has more diversity as a percentage than this group, and I don't think I see any black voices.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I won't say I definitely know the ethnic makeup of the writers, and it's likely risky ground to speculate. That being said, if 5 of the 18 at startup are POC that strikes me as a pretty good percentage. I'm trying to think of some of the other Deadspin folks that didn't come back to do Defector and off the top of my head I can't think of any POC (Laura Wagner, Tim Marchman, Emma Baccalieri, Hannah Keyser are the first few that come to mind). I'm likely wrong about that though.
 

Zososoxfan

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I really liked Deadspin and don't mind the snark and anti-Boston angle--they hate on everyone fairly equally. They were more than happy to shit on NYC, STL, and Florida. I'm interested for Magary alone, but also because it was just a much more fun way to casually follow sports than the robotic alternatives at ESPN and CBS. I really like Haisley as well, and while I can't name any other writers by name, I did like a lot of the content. All that said, $8/mo. just ain't happening, but I'll certainly be keeping eyes out for free trials.
 

88 MVP

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I will probably throw them $8 at the start to support some of these folks who I have enjoyed reading in the past, but I can’t see myself spending that in perpetuity.

If Deadspin was profitable through advertising, why not simply follow that model again?
 

kenneycb

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I will probably throw them $8 at the start to support some of these folks who I have enjoyed reading in the past, but I can’t see myself spending that in perpetuity.

If Deadspin was profitable through advertising, why not simply follow that model again?
Because they don't have the scale of Gawker and all the other sites under the brand behind them anymore. And likely to more easily cover upfront costs (e.g., website maintenance, server space, salaries, etc.).
 

Spelunker

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Also, display advertising is getting hammered, and it's a vanishingly useful approach for writing. There's a reason why, say, The Athletic went with a subscription model, and why sites that actually have good writing seem to be a fraction of what they once were. Maybe subs catch on, maybe they don't, but that's kinda the only trick left right now.
 

InstaFace

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I really liked Deadspin and don't mind the snark and anti-Boston angle--they hate on everyone fairly equally. They were more than happy to shit on NYC, STL, and Florida. I'm interested for Magary alone, but also because it was just a much more fun way to casually follow sports than the robotic alternatives at ESPN and CBS. I really like Haisley as well, and while I can't name any other writers by name, I did like a lot of the content. All that said, $8/mo. just ain't happening, but I'll certainly be keeping eyes out for free trials.
Yeah, you know, that's what was great about me occasionally reading the odd Deadspin article: it was always different. Most ESPN-style / newspaper-style sportswriting is written for the lowest common denominator of sports fan and has all the intelligence and subtlety of a conversation among regulars at your local pub. I can get talking heads yelling at each other all I want, or cliche-laden factual updates. What I can't get is broader context of an event, say the intersections between sports and broader culture, that Deadspin's worldliness and sharp-critique approach brought to the table.

That's what I love about The Athletic, frankly - the writers put work into their articles, and try to go a level deeper. Some end up banal anyway. But some end up being exactly the sort of thing I want to read about the leagues and players I follow. I feel like ZombieSpin would be another, non-overlapping source of that same kind of entertainment.
 

The Social Chair

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They'll need 4 times that to just keep their heads above water (got to pay for accounting, legal, tech, etc.)

Will David J Roth and Drew Magary be cool with an equal share when they are the ones bringing in the revenue? Will other writers be OK with Drew freelancing for GQ?
 

nattysez

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Will David J Roth and Drew Magary be cool with an equal share when they are the ones bringing in the revenue? Will other writers be OK with Drew freelancing for GQ?
On the other hand, the writers who need to churn out content daily in order to feed the beast are not necessarily going to love Magary getting a full share while writing once a week. I'll be curious to see how it all works out.
 

Phil Plantier

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I can't decide whether charging an extra $30/year for commenting privileges is genius or haughty.
 

joe dokes

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Also, display advertising is getting hammered, and it's a vanishingly useful approach for writing. There's a reason why, say, The Athletic went with a subscription model, and why sites that actually have good writing seem to be a fraction of what they once were. Maybe subs catch on, maybe they don't, but that's kinda the only trick left right now.
I have no idea about its finances, but Baseball Prospectus is almost completely paid now.
Not sports, but Josh Marshall has written extensively about why he pushed TalkingPointsMemo to a subscription model. (Although they still have quite a bit of free content.) (I subscribe to TPM, but not BP).
 

OurF'ingCity

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I have no idea about its finances, but Baseball Prospectus is almost completely paid now.
Not sports, but Josh Marshall has written extensively about why he pushed TalkingPointsMemo to a subscription model. (Although they still have quite a bit of free content.) (I subscribe to TPM, but not BP).
There is virtually no quality journalism on the Internet at this point, in any field, that is not 100% free anymore - there are varying levels of paywall but basically everywhere has one to one degree or another.

This is someone off-topic but podcasts are starting to get this way too - the number of podcasts that have gone to hybrid model where some episodes are free and others are only available to Patreon subscribers has skyrocketed in recent years from what I've seen, and, as with Internet journalism, I suspect this is only going to be more and more true (I strongly suspect that Spotify ultimately intends to make certain of its podcasts mostly or entirely off-limits to all but Premium subscribers).
 

Phil Plantier

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There is virtually no quality journalism on the Internet at this point, in any field, that is not 100% free anymore - there are varying levels of paywall but basically everywhere has one to one degree or another.

This is someone off-topic but podcasts are starting to get this way too - the number of podcasts that have gone to hybrid model where some episodes are free and others are only available to Patreon subscribers has skyrocketed in recent years from what I've seen, and, as with Internet journalism, I suspect this is only going to be more and more true (I strongly suspect that Spotify ultimately intends to make certain of its podcasts mostly or entirely off-limits to all but Premium subscribers).
Moving even further afield, It's worth noting that the trend in academia is in the opposite direction: towards much more open and ungated access. I wonder what the effect would be of a silo-ed popular media and an open academic world.
 

NickEsasky

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Yeah, they're not going to be changing anything at all. I think I'll pass.

View: https://twitter.com/drewmagary/status/1289245065689411584?s=20
Yeah can't say I miss it:

Vikings: "Oh what a bunch of bumbling goofs who always let me down. Blair Walsh! Sad trombone. Why do I do this to myself??"
Cowboys: "Jurry thinks he's smart but he's dumb!! They won't pay Dak Prescott!! Haven't won anything since the 90s!!" Womp womp"

Patriots: "I hope a meteor wipes New England off the face of the Earth and any transplants get ass cancer and die horrible slow deaths!!1!!1 Belichick is the devil incarnate and he deserves to be in prison for all eternity!! Spygate!!!! Deflategate!!!!"
 

jimv

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Seems like I'm the only SoSHer that signed up? In any case I've really enjoyed Ratto -

Ray Ratto at Defector said:
COVID has finally paid back a bit of the debt it has incurred upon our collective psyches, and you’ll all be pleased to know that this is one of those rare moments when a national scourge is overwhelmed by a global one, namely this: The National Taking Occasional Stabs At Presenting Football League has placed the Pro Bowl into stasis.

This is not only the first official recognition that the event itself is as disposable as ankle wraps, but it may help clear some detritus out of the January schedule so that the regular season might be spread out into 2021 to cover the raft of postponements that have begun to accumulate in Roger Goodell’s garage.

Of course, the NFL release described the cancelation as “a reimagining,” proving that if all the games are eventually obliterated, the league will still have the gibberish market cornered, to wit:

“The league will work closely with the NFLPA and other partners to create a variety of engaging activities to replace the Pro Bowl game this season. This virtual recognition of the season’s finest players will provide fans the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of their favorite stars.”​

The mind reels in brain-bubbling horror at how these human doorstops will “reimagine” the most tedious and despised sporting event we have...........
 

jimv

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Same, can be fun to read the comments, feel no need to add to it
 

ninjacornelius

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Seems like I'm the only SoSHer that signed up? In any case I've really enjoyed Ratto
I signed up, and I'll echo this sentiment - Ratto has been on fire working the sports-during-the-pandemic beat. He's definitely been the MVP of the relaunch for me.

In general, I feel like I'm getting exactly what I paid for with The Defector. I know that some people are turned off by their every-single-player-and-team-is-awful-and-especially-the-ones-you-root-for ethos that definitely manifested itself in the dying years of Deadspin, but there's actually been a lot of joyful content (for lack of a better word) that would never fly at Vichy Deadspin because it doesn't even remotely "stick to sports." I especially enjoyed the interview with the Welsh competitive gardener a few weeks back, and the interview with the two nuclear physicists about the takomak fusion reactor (and its possible uses for bodily disintegration).

In general, I'm just happy that a bunch of writers I respect are getting to do exactly what they want. They also hinted in a group chat a couple of weeks back that they're about a year ahead of their projected subscription numbers, so I'm optimistic that this model can be sustainable.
 

jimv

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Enjoyed Burneko pulverizing Quibi

Burneko at Defector said:
...It is not hard to imagine how a 69-year-old billionaire who made the bulk of his fortune betting on the production of entertainment for kids 30 years ago might come to genuine enthusiasm for this idea. If you close your eyes you can almost hear the pitch forming in your grandfather’s mind: Every time I see these kids, the kids, they’re always on the phones, staring at the phones, my gosh, you can’t even talk to them. What are they doing on the phones that’s so interesting? Is it the texting? Is it the, the YouTube? My gosh! They don’t even look up! So I says to myself, I says, “To get to these kids, you gotta make something they can watch on the phones.....
 

ninjacornelius

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There was a Business Insider interview with Tom Ley (I won't link because it's paywalled), and he revealed that Defector's got 30,000 subscribers accounting for about $2 million in annual subscription fees, plus a sponsorship deal with Warby Parker for an undisclosed sum. I don't see the subscription numbers getting much bigger, but that seems like a sustainable number for a staff of 20 people. As long as they don't run afoul of Peter Thiel again, it looks like betting on themselves will pay off.

I think that worker-owned outlets will probably be the last bastion of independent journalism, so this makes me happy.