Aug 27, 2019

The Athletic is experimenting with free content

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

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The Washington Post adds product to its masthead

Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The Washington Post will unveil a new masthead on Tuesday that for the first time in its 141-year-old history will include a vice president of product — Kat Downs Mulder, executives tell Axios.

What's new: As part of its product push, the company will launch a series of new, personalized newsletter products this fall, as well as a more responsive paywall, with Downs Mulder at the helm.

Go deeperArrowSep 3, 2019

Disney sells YES Network to Yankees, Sinclair, Amazon

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Walt Disney Company says it's sold its 80% stake in the YES (Yankee Entertainment and Sports) Network for a deal valued at $3.47 billion.

Why it matters: The YES Network is considered one of the most valuable and most-watched regional sports networks. Its sale will boost Sinclair's growing foothold in regional sports and will give Amazon an entryway into local sports broadcast.

Go deeperArrowAug 29, 2019

The NFL's slow embrace of sports betting

Reproduced from American Gaming Association; Graphic: Axios Visuals

It's been 15 months since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting.

Driving the news: In that time, the number of states with some form of legal sports betting has grown to 13 — and the NFL is slowly warming up to it. This season, the league has a full-fledged casino partner (Caesars) and an official data distributor (Sportradar) for the first time.

Go deeperArrowSep 6, 2019