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The Athletic, a subscription-based digital sports media company, will begin experimenting with putting some of its audio content in front of its paywall in an effort to expand its audience, a source familiar with the plans tells Axios.

What's new: The company will start by offering one episode a week to non-subscribers in front of the paywall and one behind. The goal is to offer people who might be less likely subscribe to The Athletic the ability to sample some of company's content.

  • A small portion of the free audio will include advertising. While this is just an experiment for now, the source notes that the company is likely to ramp up advertising efforts in the future.
  • The company is also launching 40 new podcasts on Tuesday, bringing its total podcast count to around 80 podcasts. By years end, the company hopes to have around 120 podcasts in total.

Our thought bubble: It's hard to market products with hard paywalls because consumers aren't able to sample the product before committing to buying it. While The Athletic does offer free trials and sign-up discounts, this offering really goes after people who never were open to paying to begin with.

The big picture: The Athletic, which started out as a text-based sports media company, has been growing its podcast and video business over the past year as it aims to hit its goal of 1 million paid subscribers by years end.

  • It launched its podcast business in April as a way do more with the company's 400+ sports reporters around the country and in the UK and launched an original video business in May.
  • As of June, the company had over a half million paid subscribers. It expects to grow that number by focusing on expanding its business in the UK as well.

Be smart: The Athletic isn't the only subscription-based site to make this transition. The Information said earlier that it may begin to experiment with advertising.

Go deeper: Traditional sports look to new tech to survive

Go deeper

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.