The Athletic Expanding With U.K.-Based Staff, Launching In August
The Athletic "plans to hire a U.K. team of between 50 and 55" staffers, "mostly writers, ahead of a mid-August launch" of the company's first overseas hub, according to Lucinda Southern of DIGIDAY. The U.K. editorial team will "focus initially" on soccer, "particularly Premier League teams, but will expand to cover more sports in time." The Athletic Chief of Staff Akhil Nambiar said that there is "already a small paying U.K. cohort plus a U.S. appetite" for more local soccer content, "making the U.K. a natural next step." The Athletic Dir of Communications Taylor Patterson said that subscribers are now "well over" 100,000, though still in the "low hundreds of thousands." The company currently charges $9.99 per month or $50 per year for their content, and "rates will be similar in the U.K." Subscribers will have "access to all content created in the U.S. and vice versa." Patterson added that most of The Athletic's "early markets in the U.S. are profitable and the business is healthy." In the U.S., The Athletic has "grown to nearly 400 full-time writers, who each have equity in the business" (DIGIDAY.com, 6/7).
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU DO HERE? In Hartford, Alex Putterman writes ESPN for years has "faced criticism for its attitude toward journalism, with skeptics pointing to apparent conflicts of interest surrounding leagues the network both covers and partners with, and the way it sometimes privileges hot-take opinion over thoughtful reporting." However, the net "continues to employ journalists" like Paula Lavigne, who has reported on "corruption in college athletics, sexual abuse across the sports landscape and a variety of other weighty topics." In May, ESPN "accepted a Peabody award for its coverage of sexual assault" at Michigan State. ESPN's reporting successes, "along with its perceived failures, beg a question that has followed the company throughout its history: What exactly is the role of sports journalism at the worldwide leader in sports?" ESPN primarily "tackles the wider sports world with a journalistic focus" through its "OTL" and "E:60" programs. ESPN Exec Producer Andy Tennant said, "We're diving deeper into stories, we're telling character-driven stories, and we're going long. It differentiates us. No one else is devoting the resources and no one else is showing a commitment to this kind of work like ESPN currently does" (COURANT.com, 6/7).