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Alex Mather: The Athletic May Have To Offer Free Samples

“These next few months are critical for The Athletic.”

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The Athletic has always been a subscription based sports journalism outlet, however its founders have now realized that only goes so far.

“When everything is paywalled, you’re limiting the audience you can reach every single day,” co-founder Alex Mather said in an interview with Bloomberg last week. “For us to reach 5 million or 10 million subscribers, we’re going to have to reach more sports fans, give them a taste of our product, find ways to bring then into our universe and engage them and hopefully get them to become a paid subscriber.”

The Athletic is seeking any way to reach new subscribers ahead of a potential sale of the company.

Jacob Donnelly, an employee at the newsletter company Morning Brew says that The Athletic‘s growth has slowed quite considerably and is losing subscribers as fast as they are bringing in new ones. “These next few months are critical for The Athletic.” Donnelly said.

The Athletic has been under growing pressure from investors to deliver a return for the company, as their process of selling has been slow. Fanduel has said that they are not interested in the entity and The New York Times backed out of their talks on a purchase due to The Athletic valuing themselves far higher than the Times did.

It appears that The Athletic may have reached a saturation point for their product. While the company is growing in revenue, big publications that are subscription based often see about 20 percent of subscribers cancel by the end of the year.

Mather does not seem concerned however, as he said that with the sports world back in action following lockdowns in 2020 that he believes that The Athletic is poised to grow.

Sports Online

Dan O’Toole Returns To Broadcasting With New Podcast, ‘Boomsies!’

“Talking to some former co-workers — some former bosses — and one of them said, ‘Well, Dan, I think you’re done in the industry.'”

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BetRivers Network

Since being fired by TSN last year, Dan O’Toole has kept a rather low profile. But not by choice.

As the former SportsCentre and Fox Sports Live anchor explained to The Athletic‘s Sean Fitz-Gerald, no other media outlet was offering work. The lack of interest moved O’Toole to the point where he began to consider a different career. And he wasn’t getting encouragement from former colleagues.

“Talking to some former co-workers — some former bosses,” O’Toole told Fitz-Gerald, “and one of them said, ‘Well, Dan, I think you’re done in the industry.'”

It’s a realization that plenty, far too many, in media have faced in recent years as outlets make budget cuts or shut down altogether. Yet for someone as accomplished and popular as O’Toole was in his on-air partnership with Jay Onrait, such a situation must have been even more difficult.

So like many other broadcasters, O’Toole, 46, decided to give himself a platform. He started a podcast. Titled Boomsies!, the show is available where most audio content is found these days, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The podcast is also available on YouTube, in partnership with BetRivers Sportsbook. New shows will be posted every Wednesday.

The “Boomsies!” name came from a producer he previously worked with at FS1. Behind the scenes, the producer would yell “Boomsies!” in response to a big play or notable mistake.

Later in The Athletic‘s article, O’Toole went onto explain that he believes it’s been difficult to find work in Canadian sports television because of his rather public episode in July 2020 when he believed that his infant daughter had been abducted. The child was later found safe with her mother.

“Having a very public — essentially — mental breakdown, with a situation in my life,” O’Toole told Fitz-Gerald. “That probably entered my brain, where people don’t want this guy around.”

Losing his job at TSN provided O’Toole with the opportunity to help himself, which included a month-long stay in a treatment center last year. He’d like to get back on television, but is content with the podcast for the work-life balance it allows. The show also provides a platform to demonstrate to anyone who might be struggling with mental health that it’s possible to put a life back together.

New episodes of Boomsies! are available each Wednesday on most podcast apps including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, in addition to a video version on YouTube with the BetRivers Network.

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Sports Online

4 Kicked Tires On The Athletic Before New York Times Deal

“Amazon reportedly had eyes on pairing The Athletic with its Thursday Night Football coverage.”

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Before The New York Times agreed to pay $550 million to acquire The Athletic, other companies showed interest in the subscription sports site. Alex Sherman of CNBC says throughout 2021, multiple companies discussed buying The Athletic.

In March of 2021, The Athletic and Axios began talks to merge. When that fell through, Sherman writes that other suitors stepped up. Amazon, Conde Nast, and DraftKings were amongst the media suitors. Private equity firm TPG Capital showed interest as well.

Amazon reportedly had eyes on pairing The Athletic with its Thursday Night Football coverage. “Spokespeople at Amazon, Conde Nast and DraftKings didn’t respond to requests for comment,” Sherman writes.

TPG Capital was the most serious competitor to The Times. TPG also declined to comment, but Sherman reports that writers for The Athletic were worried about their jobs should a private equity firm buy the site.

Details of The New York Time’s take over have not been revealed, although it is expected that The Athletic will continue to function as an independent entity under the new ownership.

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Sports Online

BetMGM Launches In New York On Monday

“Mobile wagering officially became legal in the Empire State over the weekend.”

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BetMGM is the next man up in the New York Gaming Commision’s “rolling” plan to introduce new mobile sportsbooks in the state. The company announced via Twitter that it would begin taking bets on January 17.

Mobile wagering officially became legal in the Empire State over the weekend. Four books launched their New York operations on Saturday and saw massive returns. The state generating more tax revenue off one day of mobile wagering than it has in more than 30 months of retail betting.

Will BetMGM experience the same boom on day 1 that BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel all did upon their launch?

Probably not. Those four were the first mobile players in the market. Also, by launching on Monday, BetMGM will miss all but one game on the NFL Playoffs’ Super Wild Card Weekend.

But this is a long play. The population of New York State is large enough and BetMGM is well-enough-established to generate profit quickly. Besides, with the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders, and Sabers all in season, there will be no shortage of opportunities in the coming months for New Yorkers to fire up the BetMGM app and lay their money down.

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