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Sporting News launches digital daily ...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ateri, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. ateri

    ateri New Member

    Changes magazine, etc. From today's NYT:

    A Venerable Sports Paper Plays Catch-Up

    Published: June 10, 2008

    WHEN Sporting News first hit the presses in 1886, there was no World Series, no National Football League, and no Cracker Jack, much less the Internet, mobile score updates or jeering sports bloggers. In its heyday — the 1950s and ’60s — it was the authoritative paper for serious sports fans, publishing comprehensive box scores and earning the nickname the bible of baseball.

    A mockup of the new Sporting News digital newsletter, which will be delivered to subscribers’ in-boxes each morning.

    The print edition, now more magazine than newspaper, will be published twice a month with more name writers.

    Alas, the world of sports media is not a forgiving place. Along came USA Today, ESPN and, of course, the Web, bringing instant access to all manner of statistics and athletic chatter. Sporting News — a weekly — fell behind the times and started bleeding money.

    Now a new owner, American City Business Journals, is hoping to revive the brand by bringing it into the digital age. On July 23, the company will introduce a daily digital newsletter, Sporting News Today, that will deliver scores and stats to subscribers’ in-boxes every morning.

    In September, the print edition will be reintroduced as a twice-a-month magazine, with more color, better paper and a slew of name columnists. The cover price will be the same, $3.99 an issue, and the digital newsletter will be free.

    The idea is to try to restore what Sporting News was half a century ago: a place avid fans go for the full spectrum of news from the world of sports (no, there won’t be a swimsuit issue).

    The statistics will appear in the daily newsletter, along with video, slide shows and aggregated news, while the print version will focus on analysis and colorful commentary. Among the people who will contribute semiregular columns are Troy Aikman, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback; Hank Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees co-chairman; and Ron Darling, the former pitcher for the New York Mets.

    “People know the brand, they just know it as an old brand, something their father read,” said Ed Baker, the publisher. “We’re creating a new Sporting News, modernizing and contemporizing it in a way that makes sense for today’s rabid die-hard sports fan.”

    American City Business Journals, a Charlotte, N.C.-based publisher of about 40 local business newspapers, acquired Sporting News from Vulcan Sports Media in October 2006 after deciding that the weathered brand still meant something to today’s fans. The company’s holdings include sports publications like Inside Lacrosse and several Nascar magazines, as well as nearly 200 radio outlets.

    Mr. Baker said the company would put the full resources of its newsrooms around the country behind the new Sporting News. Already it has commissioned extensive research about how modern fans get their sports news.

    “We came to the quick realization that digital is where it’s at,” Mr. Baker said. “Sports fans want on-demand information.”

    Current circulation for the print magazine is about 700,000, a number Mr. Baker predicted would drop by about 100,000 for the e-mail version as the subscriber list narrowed to “pure, rabid fans.”

    “The rabid sports fan doesn’t wait” for a weekly product to get box scores anymore, he said.

    The question is whether morning delivery of sports news might already be too late for many fans, given the preponderance of online resources for those seeking scores before going to bed.

    “If you want to go online at the end of the baseball day, you can go to a number of places and get everything you need to know,” said Sandy Padwe, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former deputy sports editor for Newsday and The New York Times. “I don’t see how coming out in the morning helps you compete,” added Mr. Padwe, who is also a part-time consultant for ESPN.com on investigative and enterprise reporting.

    American City Business Journals’ own research shows just how competitive a market the Sporting News is entering: its poll of more than 2,000 sports fans online found that nearly 60 percent used the Internet to track the scores of games in real time, a figure that suggests they have little patience for delayed updates. Sixty-two percent used their mobile phones to get scores. In terms of overall consumption, those whom the study labeled “heavy enthusiasts” already watch about 10 hours a week of sports-related television and spend nearly seven hours on sports-related Web sites.

    Meanwhile, sites like ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated’s SI.com offer various digital update services, as do many mainstream newspaper Web sites. And sports blogs like Deadspin and Sports Blog Nation continue to build audiences of young fans with timely reporting and an irreverent, sometimes profane tone that conventional media outlets avoid.

    But that democratization of sports media could actually work in Sporting News’s favor, said Will Leitch, the editor of Deadspin, whose column for Sporting News will mark his return to the brand after a stint as its online editor about 10 years ago.

    “Look at Neil Best,” Mr. Leitch said, referring to the Newsday sports blogger. “Nobody cares that his Web site has ‘Newsday’ in the U.R.L. If the Sporting News has a good Web site and something people want or see, no one cares whether it says Sporting News or Blogspot.com or what.”

    Mr. Baker, meanwhile, places faith in the bottomless fan appetite for sports news and the fact that not everybody has the choice of getting the news before they go to bed.

    “What if a player gets arrested or traded? Things happen overnight,” he said in response to Mr. Padwe’s comment. “And if the Mets are on the West Coast playing the Dodgers, how many people stay up till 1 to find out the score?”

    Indeed, he said, the sun never sets on the Sporting News empire: “There is no end to the baseball day.”
  2. steveu

    steveu Well-Known Member

    Now this might work. I've always been a TSN fan, but lately their comprehensive preview magazines for each sport have been better than the standard weekly product.

    Time will tell if this is the answer, but at least they're being proactive.
  3. ChrisLittmann

    ChrisLittmann Member

    The company that's doing this (and I don't think I'm spilling any beans because this URL is in the sign-up) is called Texterity. If you go check out some of their samples, this is all the more intriguing.

    http://www.sportingnewstoday.com/ is the sign-up URL.
  4. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    We've been using Texterity for more than a year. It's nothing more than shovelware, just duplicating the print layout and pushing it to the reader via e-mail, where they click through to what amounts to a fancy PDF with clickable links. It's not a true digital product in that respect, in fact, and it looks crappy since the print layout is hardly designed for the digital environment.

    When we joined, Texterity charged so little we couldn't not do it. Also, Texterity clicks can be counted in ABC circ audits. So there's a lot less there for the readers than meets the eye.
  5. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Let's create something just like a newspaper only less portable.
  6. sportsed

    sportsed Member

    Nice to see that a company has got it all figured out. Good luck to those trying to make this flawed plan succeed. And word to the wise: Start circulating your resume now.
  7. ateri

    ateri New Member

    Great insights, Frank(ly a dumbass) and (wannabe a) sportsed (but I'm still stuck shooting agate at this darn weekly).

    Now get back to proofreading those cross country roundups, you unambitious, clueless hacks.

    And a question: What the hell do you and the equally inept JaredK know about anything, anyway?
  8. Diabeetus

    Diabeetus Active Member

    This will not end well...
  9. samhuff

    samhuff New Member

    AMEN. Bout time someone said that.
  10. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure this enterprise will work or not, but if they can send it to an iPhone or Blackberry, I'd say it is *more* portable. (Not sure how well it would work on a small screen, of course; I don't have either one of those and am no fan of small screens - I'd prefer to watch a show on my big screen rather than a video iPod. :))
  11. Babs

    Babs Member

    I hate PDFs. Yuck.
  12. sportsed

    sportsed Member

    I'm pretty well qualified to pass judgment as I did, thank you very much. If the powers that be at the Baseball Bible think an e-mail in everyone's inbox is the solution to what ails its bottomline, well, that's simply laughable. Most of what will be in that "digital newsletter" will be old news before someone like Ateri can hit the send button.

    I suppose we all should have realized that the person posting the NYT story wasn't looking to begin a discussion but instead had a vested interest in generating some pub. Sorry to burst your bubble.
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