The Athletic sells to the New York Times

Marceline

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I had one of those $1 a month subs do the Athletic, that jumped up to $8 after a year. When I went to cancel, they immediately offered me a year for $20, which I jumped at, and probably would have paid far more than that. I get that they have to acquire subs and show growth but when you price yourselves that low, I think it’s really hard to convince people to ever pay much more than that.
I mean just look at this thread. A bunch of people saying there's no way they'd renew for $70. Less than $6 a month.

I get why they offer those promos, because you gotta juice the subscriber numbers to get a buyout like this in the first place. But I feel it's counterproductive in terms of actually getting people used to paying a reasonable price for the content.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Jan 13, 2021
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Yeah, for sure. I don’t really know what the solution is. Only way to get subs is to practically give the product away. Even then, you don’t have enough subs or usage to make much in advertising, especially digitally where there is practically an infinite supply of impressions.

Same kind of thing is happening with the streaMing services. Think the best ideas are probably to work out bundling deals with cellular, cable providers, Amazon, etc.

It’s quality content that I want to see survive but when they devalue themselves so much to start, it’s really difficult to change that consumer mindset.
 

sodenj5

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This was always the end game. There was no long term outcome for The Athletic that didn’t involve a sale. There is no way to successfully maintain a content-driven journalistic enterprise without scale, and a sports-only entity was never going to achieve that. I’m thankful it’s the Times that bought them, and not some ghoulish hedge fund that owns local “newspapers” or something. At least with the Times there’s a chance it’ll still be worth subscribing to in a year.
I agree. In their press release, the Times basically said they expect The Athletic to have a negative impact on their bottom line for about 3 years before becoming profitable.

Maybe that means they don’t completely gut it, however if they’re approaching two years and things aren’t going the way they want, it’s entirely possible start gutting it. This is the same entity that bought The Boston Globe for over a billion dollars.

I understand why they’re doing it from a business perspective on both ends. I just think it’s unlikely we see a happy ending where The Athletic continues along without some eventual significant changes.
 

B H Kim

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Judging from their subscription model, you probably don’t even have a sub to The Athletic anymore.

Some people seem to be cheering this, but The Athletic is operating at a loss. NYT is probably going to chop a decent portion of writers and leave the big names to carry them. Not sure I see this as a “win” for anyone other than the early investors and the execs of The Athletic.
Given that the rumored alternative was a sale to a gambling company, I think this is unequivocally a win for subscribers. I was planning to cancel if they had sold out to a gambling company.
 

mauf

Anderson Cooper × Mr. Rogers
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Given that the rumored alternative was a sale to a gambling company, I think this is unequivocally a win for subscribers. I was planning to cancel if they had sold out to a gambling company.
I’m not so sure. I certainly respect having a moral aversion to gambling, but strictly from a content perspective, running TA as a loss leader for some larger concern would mean preserving the status quo, or maybe investing even more to attract more eyeballs.

A smaller TA would never justify the $550m purchase price, so I don’t expect the NYT to come in and slash and burn. If they are going to meet their goal of profitability in three years, however, they are going to impose some kind of P/L discipline — they aren’t going to let TA lose money indefinitely in a single-minded quest for growth. I’m sure NYT can capture some synergies without affecting the subscriber experience (folding ad sales and IT into the existing NYT organization, for instance), but there may be some adverse impact for full-price subscribers too. For example, does it really make business sense to produce as much soccer content as they do? Or will we be served more ads in a more intrusive manner?
 

B H Kim

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I’m not so sure. I certainly respect having a moral aversion to gambling, but strictly from a content perspective, running TA as a loss leader for some larger concern would mean preserving the status quo, or maybe investing even more to attract more eyeballs.

A smaller TA would never justify the $550m purchase price, so I don’t expect the NYT to come in and slash and burn. If they are going to meet their goal of profitability in three years, however, they are going to impose some kind of P/L discipline — they aren’t going to let TA lose money indefinitely in a single-minded quest for growth. I’m sure NYT can capture some synergies without affecting the subscriber experience (folding ad sales and IT into the existing NYT organization, for instance), but there may be some adverse impact for full-price subscribers too. For example, does it really make business sense to produce as much soccer content as they do? Or will we be served more ads in a more intrusive manner?
My objections to a gambling business owning the Athletic were entirely content related. I presume that a version of the Athletic owned by a gambling enterprise would most likely have functioned as a means to drive people to their gambling businesses, with a huge focus on odds and spreads. We're already seeing a significant shift in sports reporting toward sports betting considerations. The acquisition of the Athletic by one of the big gambling sites would only have accelerated that shift.
 

Doug Beerabelli

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This aquisition has me a bit wary, but we'll see what happens. I'm in at $3.99/month right now, after the initial highly discounted price, which i still consider a bargain for the content. I think the gambling coverage will increase a bit regardless who owns it. There's enough really good content to overcome the occasional stuff I don't like, and I'll happily continue to "meh" every Jim Bowden article for now.
 
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mikcou

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May 13, 2007
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I’m not so sure. I certainly respect having a moral aversion to gambling, but strictly from a content perspective, running TA as a loss leader for some larger concern would mean preserving the status quo, or maybe investing even more to attract more eyeballs.

A smaller TA would never justify the $550m purchase price, so I don’t expect the NYT to come in and slash and burn. If they are going to meet their goal of profitability in three years, however, they are going to impose some kind of P/L discipline — they aren’t going to let TA lose money indefinitely in a single-minded quest for growth. I’m sure NYT can capture some synergies without affecting the subscriber experience (folding ad sales and IT into the existing NYT organization, for instance), but there may be some adverse impact for full-price subscribers too. For example, does it really make business sense to produce as much soccer content as they do? Or will we be served more ads in a more intrusive manner?
I assumed when I saw the news (as well as the rumors that have been swirling for a bit about this potential match) that the NYT thinks they can cross-sell subscriptions to their current subscribers for an add-on fee and perhaps some NYT subscriptions to current Athletic subscribers through package pricing. Selling subscriptions at $25 a year doesnt make sense in the context of a stand-alone company, but could make sense as incremental pricing to a comprehensive NYT subscription. Scale in advertising for TA and access for the NYT to presumably a very different readership (which I assume the NYT is starting to get concerned about their market's age).

Of all the possible outcomes, I think this is probably the reasonable best case so long as NYT executes. The Globe acquisition never really had the same strategy as the cross sell was always going to be tough. The strategy here seems to make a ton more sense. That plus they should be able to cut some expenses by slashing admin/back office moreso than anyone outside of the media/publication industry.
 

JimD

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Nov 29, 2001
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Anyone else get an e-mail like this?

Subject: Thank you for reading The Athletic we are updating The Athletic Media Company's subscription policy

Hi James,

Thanks for being a subscriber to The Athletic.

We wanted to let you know we’ve increased the price of an annual subscription to The Athletic by $1 per month.

On April 3, 2022, your annual subscription will renew at $71.99.

When we launched The Athletic in 2016 as a handful of writers and editors covering just a few local teams, we had a vision for providing smarter sports coverage for die-hard fans.

Fast forward to 2021. The Athletic now has the largest newsroom in sports, with more than 450 full time writers, editors and producers breaking exclusives, covering the biggest moments, and producing the very best coverage of more than 200 clubs and teams around the world.

Our updated pricing reflects the growth in value that a subscription to The Athletic provides. You can review and manage your subscription any time on The Athletic in your account settings. Our team will continue to work tirelessly to deliver the relentless reporting and in-depth analysis you’ve come to expect.
 

jon abbey

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Jul 15, 2005
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Yes, I got that in January before my subscription renewed in February, it’s still less than 20 cents a day.
 

Bunt4aTriple

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All in:

It's Tourney Time!
When it comes to sports betting, BetMGM is the standard. We use them for our odds, and we aren’t the only outlet to do that. Dive in and get real-time betting odds, enhanced offers and tons of different betting options. Moneyline, spread, parlays, futures — it’s all there.
Place your first bet of $10 with our partners at BetMGM, and win $200 plus get a free 1-year extension on your subscription to The Athletic regardless of your wager’s outcome.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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All in:

It's Tourney Time!
When it comes to sports betting, BetMGM is the standard. We use them for our odds, and we aren’t the only outlet to do that. Dive in and get real-time betting odds, enhanced offers and tons of different betting options. Moneyline, spread, parlays, futures — it’s all there.
Place your first bet of $10 with our partners at BetMGM, and win $200 plus get a free 1-year extension on your subscription to The Athletic regardless of your wager’s outcome.
Anybody have a promo code for this?
 

RSN Diaspora

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Jul 29, 2005
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I’m trying to make sense of this sentence from their game five recap and still can’t:

“In the second half, Boston nearly outscored Miami all by itself, 38-37, with Tatum dining Brown on back-to-back plays in the early fourth quarter as the Celtics blew the game wide open.”

One, Boston did outscore Miami in the second half…by a lot. Two, it was by more than 38-37. Three, how does a team outscore another by any other way than “all by itself”.

I suspect this is trying to communicate something about the C’s scoring 37 in the universally shitty first half and Miami scoring 38 in the second half when we pulled away, but I can’t be sure.
 

Marceline

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I’m trying to make sense of this sentence from their game five recap and still can’t:

“In the second half, Boston nearly outscored Miami all by itself, 38-37, with Tatum dining Brown on back-to-back plays in the early fourth quarter as the Celtics blew the game wide open.”

One, Boston did outscore Miami in the second half…by a lot. Two, it was by more than 38-37. Three, how does a team outscore another by any other way than “all by itself”.

I suspect this is trying to communicate something about the C’s scoring 37 in the universally shitty first half and Miami scoring 38 in the second half when we pulled away, but I can’t be sure.
I think it should read "In the second half, Tatum and Brown nearly outscored Miami all by themselves, 38-37..."
 

gtmtnbiker

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Jul 15, 2005
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I just got an email from NYT to create my account on The Athletic because I'm an NYT "all access" subscriber. Looking forward to checking out the content.
 

JimD

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Nov 29, 2001
8,279
I just got an email from NYT to create my account on The Athletic because I'm an NYT "all access" subscriber. Looking forward to checking out the content.
Be nice if they returned the favor for us Athletic subscribers, even if it was just an increased number of free weekly NYT articles.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Oct 20, 2015
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Unfortunately ads have started showing up in articles. I'm sympathetic to them needing to turn a profit at some point, but still sucks.
 

Senator Donut

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Apr 21, 2010
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Unfortunately ads have started showing up in articles. I'm sympathetic to them needing to turn a profit at some point, but still sucks.
I was able to cancel my yearly subscription for a full refund due to the change. I had figured I’d get a prorated portion back, but they gave me the full year. I’m Times subscriber, so I didn’t even lose any access.