Posted by Seth in Uncategorized on 08-27-11 No Comments
The ongoing saga of t
he Sporting News and its struggle for survival continued this week with word that they plan to cease publication of Sporting News Today, a digital daily that never did gain any traction.
Full disclosure, I did some freelance work for the Sporting News several years ago, when it was still publishing its print magazine weekly, as it did for most of its 125-year history. The magazine publishes every other week now. Count me among the many sports media types who have a soft spot for it. I remember the Sporting News when it was a weekly tabloid on newsprint, full of the previous week’s baseball box scores. But times have changed and the venerable brand has had difficulty changing with them.
Sporting News Today debuted as a free publication. Then they decided to start charging money for it. Problem is, there wasn’t enough compelling content in it to make it worth paying for. They did try to innovate. They launched an iPad app — word to the wise, you don’t want to buy it now. They partnered with Comcast to create localized editions for the areas where Comcast operates regional sports TV networks.
But the product was loaded down with AP stories and box scores that you can get for free almost anywhere on the web. It did have daily stories from Sporting News staff, just not enough of them. And nothing that screamed, “Read Me!” The Sporting News has tried to stick close to its longtime brand identity: a little bit about a lot of teams and sports. But at a time when all of that information is available elsewhere, a different route is necessary. Look at what Yahoo Sports has done — an online operation that has developed into one of the most relevant sources for investigative and breaking sports news.
The takeaway here is actually a positive one for folks in the media business — namely, content is still king. If the material is compelling, buzz-worthy — hell, I’ll say it, interesting enough to generate chatter on Facebook and Twitter — then people will read. Being unique and provocative is what it takes to survive. Sporting News Today was neither of those things.
Sporting News told subscribers it plans a free “personalized” digital daily product coming in September. We’ll have to wait and see what that means. But in the meantime it seems like another blow for a once-grand old sports brand.
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