The Athletic, a locally-focused, subscription-supported sports publication, announced its expansion into nationwide coverage today with the splashy hires of Stewart Mandel for college football and Seth Davis for college basketball.
What makes it different: The Athletic charges $5.99 a month (or $40 for a full year) to access its content, allowing it to provide a clean ad-free presentation to readers. From Mandel: "The Athletic's subscriber model allows us to focus entirely on high-quality written content. NO ads, NO auto-play videos, NO clickbait."
Why it matters: An AP NORC Center and American Press Institute study earlier this year found that 53% of people are willing to pay for news that suits their interests and fosters a good user experience. Spikes in subscriptions and investments in subscription products across diverse, often-specialized publications like The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New York Times' cooking section and The Information prove that trend. By investing in a clean user experience and backing it up with quality niche content, The Athletic is hoping to latch onto the trend.