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Sporting News ... Sold

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. jaredk

    jaredk Member

    1) If we're judging Sporting News as a bush leaguer next to SI and ESPN, as everyone here does, it seemed necessary to cite the Spink "business model" as the original flaw. The Spinks created a niche product that never had the financial foundation to do battle with corporate empires. All attempts to join the big boys have failed, no surprise to anyone who watced the Sporting News owners throw nickels around like manhole covers.

    2) You gotta search high and low to find that $5 deal, and I suspect the Sporting News gets only a handful of subscriptions that way because those low-ball magazine dealers are bottom feeders who do no advertising or promotion.

    3) My bad on "general interest," I guess, but I thought we were talking about general-interest sports magazines, not specialty rags on karate and power lifting. And as SI has evolved, so has Sporting News, probably more so in fact, though there's no doubt that SI's evolution has been artful while the Sporting News's is, at best, awkward, as you might expect from an editorial staff hired at a fraction of SI/ESPN salaries and working with a fraction of SI/ESPN tools. I'd even bet a nickel or so that it takes 4 or 5 Sporting News writers -- and there are only 7 or 8 on staff -- to match the salary and travel expenses of Gary Smith alone.

    4) Yep, today's "Life" is only a reminder of a once-great magazine, as Tom Cruise is a reminder of Clark Gable, and more's the pity in each case.
  2. Clerk Typist

    Clerk Typist Guest

    Kudos to all on a reasoned series of arguments on the downfall of TSN. I only chime in to note that the Spink model, at least regarding stringers, was carried on by Times-Mirror and expanded by Allen/Vulcan with its move to the Internet. Stringers were brought on to handle the NBA and NHL, usually net only. The stringer budget for all for major leagues ran to over $1 million annually, I believe. And when that was cut, for both the mag and the net, TSN lost the team-by-team insight that no other single source had.
  3. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Yep, today's "Life" is only a reminder of a once-great magazine, as Tom Cruise is a reminder of Clark Gable, and more's the pity in each case.

    While I'm not disputing the validity of a Cruise/Gable comparison, the more apt example would be something that endures under the same name, but with far less stature.

    My example would be brews like Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon....once major national brands, now they're either econo-beers or downscale beers favored by hipsters just because they are so far out of fashion.
  4. scalper

    scalper Member

    I can vouch for some of the people at TSN -- good people -- and I'll stick up for TSN enough to say you can occasionally find good features in there. It's just that with a little more space and a little more freedom, many of those pretty good features could be better.

    I think they've always operated from standpoint that they couldn't compete with SI, and then later, ESPN the Mag. They were limited by finances, and then they limited themselves on top of that by believing they couldn't keep up. In recent years, they could have come closer because SI ain't what it used to be and ESPN the Mag isn't nearly as good as believes it is -- there's a lot of junk mixed in with the good stuff.

    Is TSN doomed? Probably.

    Will we one day be living in a world where newspapers don't send pro beat guys on road trips?

    Absolutely. We'll have a one-world newspaper network for stuff like that. AP Deluxe, if you will

    It's all changing.
  5. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    What bugs me about TSN, apart from what's been mentioned here, is that the whole feel of the magazine in the last decade or so is that's it's writing AT you, not FOR you.

    There's a smugness which pervades that magazine which really has no basis in reality. Sorry, but TSN's NFL War Room, for example, couches itself as some end-all, be-all for that type of info.

    Well ...

    a) The magazine generally wasn't in my hands until after the games they were writing about, so the end result is I pick apart what they fucked up on, fairly or unfairly creating a credibility gap.

    b) It's written with the earnestness of a 50s crime show, like their passing down state secrets or something.

    c) Most important, I don't give enough of a shit about the "see a different game" bullshit to see what justifies the space.

    Most of their coverage is in this vein. The only writers I like to read are DeCourcey and Delassandro (and when I say read, I mean, read for free off my Dish Network service). The rest of their writers write with either a misplaced arrogant style that's really off-putting or are so vanilla as to be damn near unreadable.

    On the arrogant side, there's one writer in particular, I swear, the tone of every other story he writes is along the lines of, "You're not cool enough to know what the top 20 stadiums in college football are, but I'm going to educate you." Fuck off and stop writing down to your readers.

    Their niche is gone, and though they tried, they failed to make anything out of the brand name recognition Sporting News has. It was all flavor-of-the-moment, hey, let's buy a talk radio network! Let's do a NASCAR news service! Meanwhile, their website, which wasn't too far off ESPN.com, etc., in its early days, withered on the vine.

    Now, TSN's sad state of affairs is like Bela Lugosi in an Ed Wood flick. Stripping whatever standard they had to pay a buck.
  6. terrier

    terrier Well-Known Member

    I can tell you this: I subscribe to both SI and TSN, and if I'm not home when the mail arrives, my 20-year-old stepson has usually made off with TSN. I don't think he even touches the SI swimsuit issue.
  7. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Does he borrow your Judy Garland albums, too?
  8. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Well-Known Member

    If he wants to install track lighting, be very concerned.
  9. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    The reality is, that for most big pubs, the flagship product breaks even and the real money is made off special pubs and branded sections: The annual previews, the fantasy guides, that sort of thing.
    As long as those are making money, you can break even or even take a small loss on the weekly
    As long as you don't damage the brand, you can keep making money for ages.
    The worry would be tarnishing that halo, but I was at a doctor's office not too long ago and read TSN. The issue I saw was pretty good. Previewed college football, I thought it was pretty comparable to SI's. As part or my long-standing ban on ESPN, I haven't looked at the Mag in years, so I can't comment on it.
    I mean, sure, TSN didn't have that famed SI content like workout tips from Vernon Davis or how he drinks Myoplex shakes. When I looked at, I thought it was an advertorial for EAS.
  10. terrier

    terrier Well-Known Member

    2) The Sporting News reader demographics are nearly identical to SI's and ESPN's, in some instances skewing younger more quickly. National magazine surveys show it.

    I can tell you this: I subscribe to both SI and TSN, and if I'm not home when the mail arrives, my 20-year-old stepson has usually made off with TSN. I don't think he even touches the SI swimsuit issue.

    Does he borrow your Judy Garland albums, too? Nah, I fish TSN out of his room while he's surfing Net porn. If there's any Judy Garland full frontal in existence, he knows where to find it.
  11. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

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