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ESPN’s features and analysis moving ESPN+ paywall

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Oct 21, 2020.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

  2. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    I regularly discover more things I can live without.
    TigerVols, garrow, Liut and 4 others like this.
  3. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    I actually like ESPN's approach here and I think their plan, at least as reported by the Post, is one news outlets should follow.

    Breaking news and investigative pieces that impact the public's well-being in front of the paywall. Features, columns, analysis, etc behind the paywall.
  4. MeanGreenATO

    MeanGreenATO Active Member

    I regularly discover broke folks who can't afford to read the sports section. It's heartbreaking, really.
  5. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    I agree it's a sound approach - but I'll be interested to see if it works.

    They've been giving away the milk so long, I'm not sure how many readers will subscribe to the cow.
    PaperDoll likes this.
  6. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Is it definitely a sound approach?

    I'm not saying it isn't, because I don't know. Obviously, they think it makes sense to give it a try, although my guess (and it is just a guess) is that it's more because they are flailing -- ad revenue has gotten tougher to generate, so they are trying to flip to a subscriber model.

    But what if the subscriber model fails for the same reason the ad revenue model was doing worse than it used to? It would mean the product itself, or the environment for it, is the problem, not the model for monetizing it.

    Also, keep in mind that their website might serve several purposes.

    For example, revenue and income generation from the website itself could take a back seat in their strategy, if the website acts as a vehicle that draws a lot of people and drives more viewers to ESPN's networks. They would be monetizing the website with the TV ad revenue, if that was the case, which can be lucrative. And to do that, they would need to give away the milk to get as many milk drinkers as possible on board.

    Even if they view the website as a stand alone that needs to pay for itself, why is everyone so sure that a subscriber model is necessarily more lucrative than an advertising revenue model? What if they put most of their content behind the paywall and lose so many of the readers that they used to have (and were able to draw ad revenue against) that they end up deriving even less income from the site?
    MeanGreenATO and maumann like this.
  7. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Not being able to afford reading the sport section isn’t heartbreaking. Not being able to afford to fix your car or pay the heat bill is heartbreaking. Choosing between putting your disposable income toward ESPN or The Athletic or a videogame isn’t.
    FileNotFound, Fdufta and Readallover like this.
  8. MeanGreenATO

    MeanGreenATO Active Member

    I was being sarcastic. But for the life of me I cannot understand how that on a board for sports journalists, there is pushback for ways to monetize sports journalism.
    Mngwa and Fdufta like this.
  9. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    I don't think I will subscribe. I would assume the pricing will be $50 a year. I pay $60 for the Athletic. It seems to me that the Athletic has more beat writers than ESPN does, especially after the layoffs in Bristol. The Athletic also offers a set of national writers comparable to ESPN. So why pay for an inferior product.

    A good example is NFL draft coverage. ESPN puts a lot of the Kiper-McShay material behind a pay wall. But I get basically the same draft coverage at the Athletic.

    Another reason that I don't pay for ESPN Plus is that I refuse to pay to support Mel Kiper's hair stylist but that is just me.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
    sgreenwell likes this.
  10. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Eh, I think there's pushback because we've kind of already seen how this story ends. I think ESPN / Disney will get a bit of cash from this upfront, but the downside to having a "wall" for content like this is that its really hard to attract new subs. At some point, the equilibrium will switch - They'll have shed enough subscribers, or ad rates will go up, that they'll switch back to giving away more stuff for "free." Rinse and repeat.
  11. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    What this actually does is make me less interested in ESPN and more interested in the individuals they put behind the paywall.

    I wouldn't be paying for ESPN+. I would be paying for Jeff Passan. And Buster Olney. Just to name a couple I like and know would be there.

    I did have ESPN+, or whatever it was called at the time, for several years when the magazine came along with the price. I felt it was well worth it then, somewhere around $40/year. I also liked Keith Law. And I believe during my subscription Buster moved from free to behind the paywall, so I was getting at least three things I really liked. Then Law left and the magazine died and besides Olney there wasn't anything I wanted to go out of my way for.

    So I feel it diminishes ESPN and raises individuals. Joe Sheehan has been doing his own newsletter for years. I subscribed for the past year. I think he's one of the top baseball writers around, well worth the price. Haven't renewed yet, but might. It's about $40/month.

    I subscribed to The Athletic because I got a great deal and I enjoy several of the writers there -- not just local guys, some of whom I know personally, but Ken Rosenthal is outstanding and Law is there now. Plus, the entire site is paywalled. All or nothing with them. I get my money's worth. I did blow it and let it autorenew for the higher price when I probably could have got back in for around half as much. Have to be smarter next year.

    There's two, which came out to $100 for the year. I'm sure I could add more. Eventually it's not all nickels and dimes, though. I'd prefer to pay for the Washington Post and/or New York Times before adding another sports subscription. NYT is $52/year. Washington Post is $39/year. (Actually, that one's a pretty damn good deal.)

    So what can I live without? Even if I tripled how much I pay for online content, I can't get everything I want. Something would have to go. Plus it's annoying to keep track of all the subscriptions. And I haven't even got into Netflix vs. Hulu vs. whatever streaming services there are. (That's why a jailbroken firestick is so great.)

    Paywalls aren't necessarily bad for these entities. But they aren't good for me, because no matter how much I subscribe to, there's going to be something I leave out. Hopefully enough others will subscribe to Jeff Passan, errrr, ESPN+ to keep him and other Jeff Passans around.
    wicked and sgreenwell like this.
  12. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    I just got charged $150 to renew my Washington Post subscription. If I am going to prop up a news outlet it's going to be one that breaks many stories on the national level and has some good writing. Jeff Passan breaking down MLB labor negotiations doesn't do it for me.
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