We recently launched our WSNx service and I want to thank all the people that have already signed up. Our numbers thus far are greater than we expected and we are excited to roll out our plan of enhanced coverage over the next few months.
However, anytime you make a major shift in your business strategy you will have some questions and sometimes even negativity.
Below (in no particular order) I will dispel some of the myths and respond to some of the complaints that some folks have left on our comments board.
Myth: Your traffic will go down.
NK: Most articles and player rankings stuff will be part of the subscription service. This currently accounts for less than 10% of our traffic. We will still have articles that aren’t subscriber only.
Complaint: Since this is high school sports and not professional or college sports we should have no right to charge for the content
NK: If you look at other states, the only places you can get the type of content we provide are subscription sites such as Scout and Rivals. These sites charge anywhere from $7-$10 per month.
Also, the further down into a niche you get the better chance it is going to be more expensive. For example, I wouldn’t start covering the Packers and trying to charge for it because there are already a thousand media outlets trying to cover the Packers.
Unfortunately, people aren’t exactly knocking down doors to cover high school sports. You can look to papers around the state and look at what they have cut in the past 5 years and there is a very good chance that it was high school sports staff and coverage. You can look at a statewide website that recently went out of business or at the several different iterations of scout/rivals competitors we’ve had over the years that couldn’t make it.
Complaint: I am a high school student/college student I don’t have any money for this.
NK: $22. That’s 2 or 3 meals at your favorite local fast food restaurant. That’s two movies (if you don’t get the big popcorn). It’s one month of Netflix. It’s probably less than 1/3 the cost of whatever outfit you have on today. It’s 20 songs on Itunes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if you truly are eating ramen noodles in your dorm room every day and working jobs just to pay for tuition I am truly sorry. I worked full-time all the way through college and I know how it’s tough to make everything work. If any of you college folks are interested in high school sports and / or media and want work experience we could always use some help, we could pay you via a subscription plus job experience.
Myth: Kids who don't play aau could lose exposure time. A lot of players outside the top 5 will now lose exposure.
NK: I’m not sure I understand the logic behind that one but I am guessing that you are saying that absolutely no one will subscribe and hence kids will not get exposure. 10 out of our first 50 subscribers were college coaches, so I don’t think you have to worry about this. These are people that pay $500 for packets at an AAU tournament, $22 is surely in their budget.
Question: You say that this service will allow us to cover more sports more frequently from a statewide coverage standpoint, I'd like info about the above comment.
NK: It’s hard for us currently to add more sports and more writers due to issues with compensation and output. This allows us to find passionate people about a number of sports we currently don't focus on and give them the opportunity to cover what they love and get out of it what they put into it.
Complaint: I fail to see where the demand is coming from for the "other sports" to justify this.
NK: Just because a sport other than basketball or football isn’t as "mainstream", doesn’t mean that they don’t have passionate fans, parents and student-athletes. In fact, I would say that since these sports have been snubbed in newspapers and local media for the longest time that the hunger for more coverage is greater.
Also, adding more coverage for other sports wasn’t the only reason we did this, just another added benefit.
Question/Myth: What was the reason that courtside became free? I have a feeling history is going to repeat itself.
NK: When that decision was made, it was a different environment. In hindsight, I actually think it was a big mistake to remove the service, we should have invested in more content and more writers right away.
Question: Can a subscription be tied to more than one account?
NK: Unfortunately, no. While we can see some cases of this making a lot of sense (like a family) we also can see a lot of people taking advantage of this (an entire team, an entire college coaching staff, etc).
Question: Would WSN consider giving free subscriptions to all the coaches who use their website? I mean you are doing write-ups on our teams, players, conferences, etc. and now we can't even read them. I know it is not a fair comparison, but I can read my local newspaper for free online
NK: While your local paper currently is free online, there are several that are not and more that will venture that way. Also, I’m fairly sure no newspaper is giving out free subscriptions to coaches or teams.
We did discuss a free or discounted subscription for coaches that use our stat system and that isn’t necessarily off the table yet, but it’s nothing that we’ll implement for a while if we do implement it.
If we are doing a story on your team that you contribute to, feel free to email the writer and they will email you a copy of the story.
Complaint: I read this stuff all the time but now that it isn’t free it sucks and it’s not worth anything.
NK: Somehow, to someone, that type of comment makes sense. If you read it all the time, you probably like it and do feel it’s worth something.