It looks like the New York Times and The Athletic’s renewed attempts at buyout talks have gone very well indeed. The two companies were first courting last summer following failed discussions between Axios and The Athletic, but the talks came to an end in June after they were unable to come to an agreement on price.
Rumours were circulating just before Christmas that the two companies had come back to the table. And now, the NYT has agreed to acquire the subscription sports site in a deal valued at around $550 million.
The acquisition makes sense for the NYT. The Athletic has around a million subscribers, which will nicely top up the NYT’s own 8.3 million-strong pot. The publisher wants to get to 10 million subscribers by 2025. In turn, The Athletic will benefit from the infrastructure and subscriptions expertise the NYT can provide. But given The Athletic is a long way from profitability, the NYT has its work cut out.
A great example of how smart, strategic investing can help turn a business around. The publisher’s digital transformation programme has ‘gathered pace’ since last year, and has included building specialist teams creating content for several main subject areas, and strengthening subscriptions. Particularly interesting to note is that genealogy revenues have overtaken advertising…!
This is a lovely case study of how European publisher The Local went about introducing subscriptions. My favourite quote: “Every single editorial decision is made with members in mind. Whereas before we might have slavishly covered a story just because it was big in the domestic media, we now always ask ourselves if it’s really that important or if resources could better be deployed on an issue that really matters to members.”
Something about the breathless Smith/Smith hype this week felt really off to me. This brilliant piece from Alex Sujong Laughlin perfectly articulates why. There are so many dedicated, focused, worthy start-ups that struggle to attract investment because their founders aren’t white men. It’s a little galling to think that the two already assume they’re going to succeed, with a very vague concept in mind.
This week's podcast:
We’re releasing the first episode of 2022 on Jan 17th; a special looking at local news start-ups in the US and what they need to become sustainable. In the meantime, here’s a throwback from last year:
I thought this interview with subscriptions expert Robbie Kellman Baxter would be a timely throwback, given the lead story. Coincidentally, it happened to be the episode we discussed the NYT first looking into a potential deal with The Athletic in the news round-up.
We’ll be building out our written analysis this year. But did you know we also published a bunch of content before Christmas looking at media trends over the past year? If it passed you by in the pre-holiday rush, you can catch up here in our Analysis section.