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11 February 2022
The Athletic articulates its NYT future
Subscription modelsMagazines, periodicals, booksUnited States
The Athletic subscription sports publication had been linked to the New York Times for some time before it was acquired for $550 million in January 2022, now its founders are explaining what the next few years will bring for the company.
Why it matters
An aggressive upstart that had no qualms poaching top talent from major publications, the Athletic’s method was to spend big, draw in subscriptions and, most people expected, a big sale at the end.
A bit like ad agencies, publications are rarely based on any tangible assets; they are, instead, a people company beholden to the knowledge and connections of those that work there. But, if that’s what the business requires, there are opportunities at the top of the market.
What it says
Speaking to CNBC, the Athletic’s founders, Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann explained some of the impetus.
The opportunity: “A standalone brand within an incredible essential bundle. And we saw that as an opportunity to really push our agenda further and faster.” – Hansmann.
Fit: “We don’t know the details right now. We’re still working at it, but the idea is to become a part of the bundle over the next couple of years. Absolutely.” - Mather.
Capability: “The Times has many, many large teams of smart people to work on the kinds of problems that, by comparison, we might have one person working on that thing or that problem. This just felt right.” – Mather.
New York Times muscle: “Their ability, at the top of the funnel, to reach more people every single month than almost anyone in media, helping us reach as many sports fans each month as possible. And then you can kind of click your way down the funnel — just excellence in every area.” – Mather.
Content worth paying for: “Don’t be afraid to charge your subscribers for the content you create. You’re never going to know how to do it right and what folks want until you start charging.” – Mather.