BY BRANDON MURPHY
The Athletic is a website dedicated to sports fans who are searching for quality analysis, writing and reporting from some of the best writers in the industry. The Athletic was originally launched last January in Chicago and was such a hit that they decided to expand. In October, The Athletic reached out to Toronto.
“Our vision was to create a premium brand for local sports fans, as newspapers and other outlets have struggled.” says co-founder Adam Hansmann. “We also believed we could take some of the concepts that other sport-specific sites and national sites (e.g., Fangraphs) have used and apply them for local fans.”
The Athletic covers all of the major sports. For Toronto, this includes the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays and others. It is a pay to read website that offers two plans: monthly for $6.99 or annual for $49.99 total ($4.17 monthly). These plans include full access to exclusive content, interviews, post game report cards, Q&A sessions with writers, commenting on stories and significantly, no ads.
Hockey writer Dom Luszczyszyn says: “[The Athletic] is about changing the media landscape towards something that engages fans, teaches fans, and gives them something to think about rather than just something mindless to regurgitate.”
It is increasingly unusual to find sports websites that require you to pay to access content, which is what makes The Athletic stand out. The writers deliver content based on facts and logic, rather than subjectivity.
“You want to build something that you think people will pay for and to do that you can’t be driven by ad revenue, because when that’s where the money comes from you’ll be incentivized by clicks rather satisfying the readers thirst for good quality content.”
Jack Han, another hockey writer for The Athletic, says that the mainstream media outlets do not have as primary objective to teach you about the sport. Instead, they are looking for clicks and ad revenue. For The Athletic, they want you to read and learn about the game since you have already paid the membership fee.
For Han, he sees his role as being a truth seeker, finding how and why things happen on the ice based off facts. What does he mean by that?
“Example: player X scored 30 goals last year but is on pace for 15 this year. Why?
You can make up a reason and pass it off as the reason why, or you can look at facts and make an educated guess,” says Han. Here is an example of his work and what The Athletic offers:
For those who aren’t subscribed to The Athletic (yet), here’s the critical aspect of video analysis – identifying habits that drive results pic.twitter.com/MYdwrBzDTF
— Jack Han (@ml_han) January 17, 2017
The future looks promising for The Athletic. subscriber rates are climbing every day and reviews are positive. There are plans to expand to other major cities.