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Volume 27 No. 5
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Newspapers Testing Out Sports-Only Digital Subscription Services

With The Athletic gaining more prominence, traditional newspapers have "carved out their sports coverage as discrete subscription products" online, according to Max Willens of DIGIDAY. McClatchy has "put a sports content product called SportsPass out in 10 of its 30 markets since launching" its first in August '18, and is now "figuring out how to expand SportsPass past its core offering of unlimited access to that market’s sports content for $30 per year." Miami Herald Managing Editor Rick Hirsch said that McClatchy is "kicking around ideas ranging from conference calls with reporters to exclusive livestreams on Facebook." Hirsch said, "We’re focused on what we can give subscribers that is really exclusive, experiences they can get that make them true insiders." Willens noted many legacy news publisher products "rely heavily on their owned tools and channels, specifically paywall and email, to gather new customers." Next month, when the Dallas Morning News moves its site behind a "dynamic metered paywall, it will use propensity modeling to identify possible subscribers to its two paid sports products, SportsDay HS and SportsDay, then shorten the paywall for them." McClatchy VP/Marketing & Digital Audience Development Grant Belaire earlier this year said that across 10 different markets, McClatchy’s SportsPass has "accumulated a subscriber total in the 'thousands.'" Willens noted the hope among the McClatchy sites is that the "anticipation of an upcoming season will help with renewals" (DIGIDAY.com, 7/9).