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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

FanRag Sports cuts more writers, emphasizes video, announces podcast partnership with LockedOn Network

Some interesting baseball writers got the axe. One interesting response is people calling for FanRag “to pay their writers”. I know BBTF isn’t really a business but…a lot of writers don’t seem to understand it’s fairly easy for a site to figure out whether the employee’s cost is greater than the revenue his content generates.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 24, 2017 at 02:28 PM | 67 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media

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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 24, 2017 at 04:10 PM (#5561110)
Are today's yutes really wont to sit through videos on their phone instead of reading items of interest? Nothing gets me hitting the Back button on my laptop or phone faster than autoplaying video or clicking through to what I think will be a written story and getting a video instead.
   2. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: October 24, 2017 at 04:18 PM (#5561120)
Huh ... a day with an Emma Span AND Steven Goldman sighting, brings back memories.
   3. Man o' Schwar Posted: October 24, 2017 at 04:26 PM (#5561127)
Are today's yutes really wont to sit through videos on their phone instead of reading items of interest? Nothing gets me hitting the Back button on my laptop or phone faster than autoplaying video or clicking through to what I think will be a written story and getting a video instead.

I'm the same way. I hate videos. I would much rather read a column about the World Series than watch a video covering exactly the same topic.

Video is great for highlights, when you want to see what actually happened. For analysis, preview, and any other kind of story, give me words on a page.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 24, 2017 at 04:28 PM (#5561129)
Video killed the internet scribe
Video killed the internet scribe
On my screen a diatribe...I can't click Back, can't unsubscribe...
   5. Bote Man Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:09 PM (#5561155)
I once bent over backwards to dissuade a friend from starting a hobby baseball podcast, and this was about 10 YEARS ago. It's just too much trouble to prepare something useful to say, then say it into a microphone, then edit out the crapola, then post it--a very time-consuming process. I can't imagine how much more trouble (and expense) producing video is, not to mention the fact that it devours bandwidth in a way that pure text, or even audio, never could. Plus, you can't Control-F search through a video the way you can through the text on a web page.

Basically, they're going the wrong direction simply because they can, or it's "monkey see, monkey do" to be just like ESPN or whatever outfit is pivoting to video this week.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:19 PM (#5561163)
it's fairly easy for a site to figure out whether the employee’s cost is greater than the revenue his content generates.

Oh-oh. It's been nice knowing you guys.
   7. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:26 PM (#5561171)
Like other people, I don't understand this idea that people want to watch video instead of reading. And if you believe the data linked to in TFA, they don't.
   8. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:32 PM (#5561175)
Like other people, I don't understand this idea that people want to watch video instead of reading. And if you believe the data linked to in TFA, they don't.


I assumed the idea was that it was cheaper to produce video, so the cost savings made up for the decline in popularity (similar to why reality shows are so prevalent despite reality shows being the worst genre in television history). That said, #5 makes a good point re: the cost of producing video, so I'm not sure I really get WHY video content would be cheaper than written content. Maybe it's harder to avoid the ads so it increases advertising revenue (by enough to offset a loss in reader/viewer-ship)?
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:35 PM (#5561176)
I'm surprised nobody's posted this very much related article:

Why The Athletic Wants to Pillage Newspapers

By the time you finish reading this article, the upstart sports news outlet called The Athletic probably will have hired another well-known sportswriter from your local newspaper. In a couple of years, once The Athletic has completed its breakneck expansion, perhaps that newspaper’s sports section will no longer exist.

“We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing,” Alex Mather, a co-founder of The Athletic, said in an interview in San Francisco. “We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”...

To understand why The Athletic is so brazen about its vulture strategy, one must appreciate the state of play at local and regional newspapers throughout the country. Under dire financial duress, many have put extraordinary demands on beat writers to produce heavy volumes of content, often without wage increases. The reporters are sometimes the most knowledgeable sources of information on the teams they cover, but they are afforded little opportunity to step back and write impactful articles.

These reporters are skilled experts feeling the strains of a crippled industry, and many are looking for a way out. Mather knows it....

Newspapers are a classic example of a bundle. Subscribers might read just one section, but their subscription gets them the entire paper. Mather and Hansmann believe that sports is an undervalued part of that bundle, and that there are tens of thousands of sports fans in each city who don’t care about the other sections, and would rather jettison their subscription and pay for The Athletic instead.

“I think the sports page has carried local papers for a while, and they don’t treat it well,” Mather said.

After waiting nine months to debut its second local site, Toronto, and another five months for its third, Cleveland, the company planned to grow the number of local sites slowly, before tackling national ones. But that timeline was drastically altered after layoffs at ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, Vice Sports and Vocativ this spring and summer put dozens of talented, well-connected journalists on the market.

“I’d say it’s probably the largest talent displacement in sports media ever,” Hansmann said....

As The Athletic’s costs rise — it will soon need a bigger office, and the company is beginning to hire nonrevenue-generating support staff like accountants and human resources personnel — the company will seemingly need to attract casual sports fans. But Mather and Hansmann are not convinced.

“In a city like Chicago, there are 100,000 die-hard fans,” Mather said. “That is a very lucrative subscription business. There are over 100,000 die-hard fans of Chicago teams outside of Chicago,” he added, and he says they aren’t served well. “Bleacher Report is empty calories. SB Nation is empty calories. The newspapers are doing nothing.”

More journalists and investors will pay attention if The Athletic can get to the point that it can rely only on its own revenue, rather than having to turn to venture capital. Successful online media subscription products usually either cost hundreds or thousands of dollars annually and appeal to information-starved professionals — like The Information and Politico Pro — or have relatively inexpensive subscriptions that support relatively few writers — like DK Pittsburgh Sports and Stratechery.

While The Athletic aspires to be the Spotify or Netflix of sports media, the only media companies that have achieved scale with a relatively low price point (and the help of ads) are the very same newspapers The Athletic is intent on destroying....


A subscription runs $7.99 a month, or $3.49 a month if you sign up for a year. But it's 30% off if you subscribe before 7:00 PM! Today only!

Color me a bit skeptical. If you go to their MLB page, it seems as if almost half the articles are by Ken Rosenthal.
   10. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:46 PM (#5561187)
“In a city like Chicago, there are 100,000 die-hard fans,” Mather said. “That is a very lucrative subscription business. There are over 100,000 die-hard fans of Chicago teams outside of Chicago,”


Okay, accepting this as true for the sake of argument, how many cities "like Chicago" are there? Los Angeles is probably NOT as sports-crazy as Chicago (see their history with the NFL). New York is big enough, of course, that I'm sure you can find 100-200,000 NY sports fans. But what other cities? Boston, I suppose. What else?
   11. madvillain Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:52 PM (#5561191)
Color me a bit skeptical. If you go to their MLB page, it seems as if almost half the articles are by Ken Rosenthal.


I have been a subscriber for months. The Athletic's White Sox coverage is far ahead of anything the Tribune or Sun Times offers. It's ahead of what SSS offers at times as well. The Eloy Jimenez piece that started the whole "the besssss" meme came out of their reporter pestering the A+ ball team for quotes about him, and a team mate confessed he shot the video of Eloy calling his shot (he said he'd hit a HR then did) and that he had it on his phone. Eloy was cool with sharing it and one thing led to another.
   12. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:56 PM (#5561196)
“In a city like Chicago, there are 100,000 die-hard fans,” Mather said. “That is a very lucrative subscription business. There are over 100,000 die-hard fans of Chicago teams outside of Chicago,”

Okay, accepting this as true for the sake of argument, how many cities "like Chicago" are there? Los Angeles is probably NOT as sports-crazy as Chicago (see their history with the NFL). New York is big enough, of course, that I'm sure you can find 100-200,000 NY sports fans. But what other cities? Boston, I suppose. What else?
Even accepting that, what does the subscription penetration need to be to cover costs?

There are 9.5 million people in the Chicago metro area. Granted, a newspaper is more than $8/month, but the number of "die-hard sports fans" is significantly fewer than the number of sports fans + news buffs + people looking for business news + people who read the Sunday comics. And newspapers are struggling.

   13. Bote Man Posted: October 24, 2017 at 05:58 PM (#5561198)
There are 9.5 million people in the Chicago metro area. Granted, a newspaper is more than $8/month, but the number of "die-hard sports fans" is significantly fewer than the number of sports fans + news buffs + people looking for business news + people who read the Sunday comics. And newspapers are struggling.

Agreed. And don't forget about crossword-solvers. He may throw around seemingly-large numbers, but how many of those sports fans are willing to pay up to read what is written? I just don't see how The Athletic can survive in the current economy.

Besides, I liked Mather better as The Beaver.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 24, 2017 at 06:00 PM (#5561199)
We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing,” Alex Mather, a co-founder of The Athletic, said in an interview in San Francisco. “We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”...

A lot of that talent is fairly fungible. I have my doubts that even if they hire the most popular writers, without having to overpay, they'd get people to pay for access to their site. I wouldn't, but perhaps I'm not their target audience.
   15. Greg Pope Posted: October 24, 2017 at 06:22 PM (#5561208)
I'm the same way. I hate videos. I would much rather read a column about the World Series than watch a video covering exactly the same topic.

Video is great for highlights, when you want to see what actually happened. For analysis, preview, and any other kind of story, give me words on a page.


This is one of those things that I am willing to accept is true, but I don't think I'll ever understand. Setting aside the video ads that they make you watch, I just don't get the appeal of sitting through a 10-minute video segment when I can read an article saying the same thing in less than 5. Plus I can skip over parts or search for what I'm really looking for.

Now, my teenagers consume everything via video. Is that because their primary device is their phones? I think that has to be it. Reading a long column on a phone can be annoying. Plus they get a lot of their information from videos anyway, so maybe that's what they've come to prefer. I think it's a case of not knowing that there's a better way. But also, not really having access to it in the same way that I do. I moved from newspapers to on-line pretty easily, but I still have to go to my computer or boot up my laptop or grab my iPad. The kids just always have their phones, so they don't think about getting tied down to a desk.
   16. Bote Man Posted: October 24, 2017 at 08:29 PM (#5561294)
Illiteracy?

If you read some of what passes for online conversation these days it's a wonder that these g@ddamned Millenials can communicate at all!!
   17. JJ1986 Posted: October 24, 2017 at 08:48 PM (#5561319)
I find watching video on a phone even more annoying than watching it on a computer, because you can't do anything else on the phone while you watch.
   18. Baldrick Posted: October 24, 2017 at 08:57 PM (#5561333)
Illiteracy?

If you read some of what passes for online conversation these days it's a wonder that these g@ddamned Millenials can communicate at all!!

No generation in human history writes more than the current generation of kids.
   19. Greg K Posted: October 24, 2017 at 09:11 PM (#5561350)
This is one of those things that I am willing to accept is true, but I don't think I'll ever understand. Setting aside the video ads that they make you watch, I just don't get the appeal of sitting through a 10-minute video segment when I can read an article saying the same thing in less than 5. Plus I can skip over parts or search for what I'm really looking for.

Now, my teenagers consume everything via video. Is that because their primary device is their phones? I think that has to be it. Reading a long column on a phone can be annoying. Plus they get a lot of their information from videos anyway, so maybe that's what they've come to prefer. I think it's a case of not knowing that there's a better way. But also, not really having access to it in the same way that I do. I moved from newspapers to on-line pretty easily, but I still have to go to my computer or boot up my laptop or grab my iPad. The kids just always have their phones, so they don't think about getting tied down to a desk.

Maybe we're over thinking this...perhaps young people don't know how to read?

EDIT: Damn you Bote Man, I need to learn how to read apparently.
   20. Bote Man Posted: October 24, 2017 at 09:15 PM (#5561355)
No generation in human history writes more GIBBERISH than the current generation of kids.

FTFY!

Although I am partially joking, but the percentage is left as an exercise to the reader.
   21. cmd600 Posted: October 24, 2017 at 09:25 PM (#5561371)
Are today's yutes really wont to sit through videos on their phone instead of reading items of interest?


Maybe, but the real issue is autoplay video ads pay the site more, a lot more, than an image off on the side of an article.
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 24, 2017 at 10:22 PM (#5561481)
No generation in human history writes more than the current generation of kids.

Only if you admit texting as writing. It's not in the sense of writing a letter or an essay or any piece that requires structure and thoughtfulness.
   23. PreservedFish Posted: October 24, 2017 at 10:42 PM (#5561512)
It's not in the sense of writing a letter or an essay or any piece that requires structure and thoughtfulness.

These kids are going to inherit the world, and they'll disagree with you. And you and I will be in the old folks' home and we'll be glad that these thoughtless punks have harvested the plankton that we need to survive.
   24. zack Posted: October 24, 2017 at 11:32 PM (#5561570)
I was considering subscribing to the athletic after they sucked up all the hockey writers, but that Mather guy is such a colossal jackhole that I'll never.

Their business plan is just to lose other people's money by the bushel and hope they end up with a monopoly before it all runs out. I'm sure their own pivot to video will come first.
   25. Bote Man Posted: October 24, 2017 at 11:35 PM (#5561573)
Can't-lose investment idea: sell pivots!!
   26. cmd600 Posted: October 24, 2017 at 11:43 PM (#5561579)
Their business plan is


Like most other SV funded projects, to get bought out.
   27. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 24, 2017 at 11:47 PM (#5561582)
Maybe, but the real issue is autoplay video ads pay the site more, a lot more, than an image off on the side of an article.

At the expense of running off 90% of your audience apparently.

SI’s Richard Deitsch reports that [FoxSports.com] traffic dropped an astounding 88% since the “pivot to video.” Their traffic has gone from over 143 million in a monthly period to just under 17 million.

If those numbers seem bad, keep in mind that most sports outlets see an increase in traffic when the fall comes along thanks to the return of college football and the NFL.
   28. cmd600 Posted: October 25, 2017 at 01:24 AM (#5561608)
Sure, and I'm not defending their position, it may certainly be wrong, but traffic numbers also aren't profit margin numbers. The bet wasn't that more people would watch videos than read someone like Rosenthal. I'd guess they figured viewership would decline. Instead the bet was they make more by not paying Rosenthal and collecting from whatever ads show up on the side of his article than by paying a glorifed intern to upload videos and collecting from video ads.
   29. Meatwad Posted: October 25, 2017 at 01:27 AM (#5561610)
Iv suscribed to the athletic for over a year now. At least for the Chicago site they do an awesome job covering the teams. And overall it seems like this site will be around for the long run. To,me,its worth the price.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2017 at 02:49 AM (#5561618)
Reading a long column on a phone can be annoying.

I thought this would be true but have found it's not. I read entire books via Kindle on my phone. I find paging through WaPo articles via my app at least as easy as through the website and I seem to have fewer things to accidentally click on ... and it is great for skimming along to find the bit you're interested in.

On price:

The Chicago Tribune has a sale: digital only for $1 for the first 3 months then $2/week after that; or digital plus Sunday paper for $1/3 then $2.50/week. So ignoring the bargain 3 months, we're still talking $104-130 per year. At $8/month, the Athletic is $96 per year. Unless something like 90% of Trib subscribers are only interested in sports coverage, I don't see how that pricing structure works -- especially if they're intending to pay the writers more. (Full physical paper which includes full digital access is $3/week.) Anyway, if folks weren't willing to pay $150/year to read the Trib sports section (plus anything else), is it really a good bet they'll pay $100/year to read those same writers after they've been hired by the Athletic? (I don't care, it's not my venture capital.)

To be honest, I don't know how any of these services will be able to survive. Since the introduction of Napster, the willingness of people to pay for news/entertainment in any form seems to have consistently plummeted. Maybe the final result will be a small set of oligopolistic providers but that's not how things are working now. Once Disney yanks Marvel off of Netflix (or just starts a Marvel-specific channel), once HBO and Showtime pull old (much less new) series off of Netflix, Amazon, Apple, etc. then I won't be surprised who goes under. How much is something like GoT going to cost if everybody's paid well and can that be profitable? Or do salaries go further in the tank and 90% is done by computer and AI-written and AI-acted TV replaces/supplements reality TV?

(I'm guessing we are not far away from a "sci-fi" movie where the part of an AI is "improvised" by an AI.)

It's weird cuz we're in (coming to the end of?) a golden age in TV but the writing seems on the wall to me. I'm already seeing Netflix turn out as much schlock as it can to keep new series on the "air" with the added issue that I can binge the thing in one weekend so they've got to come up with something else new if they want my eyeballs back next weekend. Australian Netflix has a LOT less than US Netflix so it's not a fair comparison but I've only had the thing for about 6 months and I'm already finishing off the dregs of anything remotely interesting to me. Meanwhile I can't find a single thing to watch on Australian Amazon prime (truly worthless ... I'm waiting to see if it will improve with Amazon Oz supposedly prepping to open (I'm starting to have my doubts). Sure, that's no worse than old network TV but it's not any better.
   31. McCoy Posted: October 25, 2017 at 07:56 AM (#5561631)
The athletic is only 4 bucks a month if you sign up for a year and they'll knock about 10 bucks off right now. Presumably the price will go up after that year if you don't want to be clever or put up a fight about signing on for a year. Or you can buy a "gift" two year subscription at 4 bucks a month as well. So right now it is a vastly cheaper option than buying a newspaper.
   32. McCoy Posted: October 25, 2017 at 08:00 AM (#5561632)
I know Netflix is spending billions and billions next year to release more movies than all the major studios combined and a crapton of new TV shows. We're talking many hundred and hundred of hours of new content. 8 billion dollars will buy you hundreds of new shows.

On a sidenote I find trying to have a written conversation while typing on a phone to be a huge pain. Consequently I've scaled my online presence way back.
   33. PreservedFish Posted: October 25, 2017 at 08:43 AM (#5561641)
I'm part of the problem, I suppose, but I find it quite difficult to imagine that I'd pay for sports reporting and commentary.
   34. PreservedFish Posted: October 25, 2017 at 08:44 AM (#5561643)
SI’s Richard Deitsch reports that [FoxSports.com] traffic dropped an astounding 88% since the “pivot to video.” Their traffic has gone from over 143 million in a monthly period to just under 17 million.



That is impressive and well-deserved.
   35. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 25, 2017 at 09:01 AM (#5561647)
I would like to cosign the anti-video screeds.

When I want to watch friggin video, I will search out friggin video.

If it's sports, news, or just amusing whatever -- write it the hell out and let me read it.

Ever-growing bandwith and better compression methodologies are a lovely thing, but FFS already...
   36. BDC Posted: October 25, 2017 at 09:18 AM (#5561660)
if it's sports, news, or just amusing whatever -- write it the hell out and let me read it

Much the same with me – with the exception of when I'm trying to hear as much of a foreign language as possible in advance of a trip. Then I seek out the video, because text isn't what I need. Weirdly, though, a lot of French news consists of mashed-up video or even a succession of stills, with a few terse text titles over the top of them. That makes no sense to me. You could read the video's text in a tiny fraction of the time it takes to play the video.

I don't think it's illiteracy exactly that drives so much video content. Baldrick makes a good point that young people can write up a storm when the circs indicate it. (Often so that they can hold one conversation IRL while doing another in text that can't be overheard.)

But I do think that there's long been an ideal of communicating with and via devices that takes place entirely via voice. A lot of older people speak texts and e-mails, and use text-to-voice to "read" (important for visually impaired people). Communicating via text is a challenge for a lot of people; it's a very distinct hybrid of technology and language. Speech is by contrast natural and organic.
   37. fra paolo Posted: October 25, 2017 at 10:30 AM (#5561718)
The writing was on the wall for some time for print media for those who had eyes to see it. I was involved circa 1998 with some very preliminary discussions about putting content online for a magazine company. The question the executive class kept asking was 'how do we monetise this?', and no-one could give a satisfactory answer other than a Micawberish 'something will turn up'.

One thing we've learned from the early decades of the New Media Terrain is that if you give people an opportunity to avoid advertising they will take it, and that doesn't matter what age one is. People fast-forward through DVR'd programming and largely ignore online advertising. If an autoplay ad comes up, it seems people tend to stop them or close the window rather than suffer through the sponsor's message.

But most people won't actually pay to avoid advertising. It seems they would rather do without.

All this sportswriting basically amounts to that category of materials that scholars work with known as 'ephemera'. (It is rich with information about popular culture if you know how to look through it, though.)
   38. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 25, 2017 at 10:55 AM (#5561741)
The writing was on the wall for some time for print media for those who had eyes to see it. I was involved circa 1998 with some very preliminary discussions about putting content online for a magazine company. The question the executive class kept asking was 'how do we monetise this?', and no-one could give a satisfactory answer other than a Micawberish 'something will turn up'.

One thing we've learned from the early decades of the New Media Terrain is that if you give people an opportunity to avoid advertising they will take it, and that doesn't matter what age one is. People fast-forward through DVR'd programming and largely ignore online advertising. If an autoplay ad comes up, it seems people tend to stop them or close the window rather than suffer through the sponsor's message.

But most people won't actually pay to avoid advertising. It seems they would rather do without.


In terms of the print media, what we're now trending towards is a Winner Takes All world, where a handful of papers (The Times, the Post, WSJ, etc.) have had relatively little problem in convincing people to pay up for content, while the vast majority of their competitors are heading south. The biggest problem facing traditional journalism today isn't what's going to happen to the Big Three; it's the shocking decline in the number of reporters covering state and local governments by regional and small town newspapers and TV stations, which directly affects the ability of citizens to see the corruption behind the scenes on those levels. Congress is bad enough, but even the worst Congress isn't as corrupt as a slightly worse than average state legislature, and fewer and fewer papers now have the resources to expose it.
   39. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 25, 2017 at 10:55 AM (#5561742)
I know BBTF isn’t really a business
I mean, it seems pretty obvious to me that Primer/BTF/Newsstand/Brand of the Day isn’t a business in any real sense of the word, it’s r.s.b ported to the Web and stripped of its spark.

Also, I'm financed by a rich grandpa.
   40. BDC Posted: October 25, 2017 at 11:12 AM (#5561769)
General print media have been declining for a long time. Sports-related print media have declined precipitously of late because they depend on reporting live events, and they cannot compete with internet there.

Some print media, though, seem to have come out of the digital era doing just fine. I subscribe to a bunch of cooking magazines, for instance, and while there has probably been some retrenchment there, and profit margins are doubtless thin, they seem to be doing as well as ever in a lot of respects. People will pay for the magazine, they will read it cover to cover, and it will sit around or be saved for quite a while (which is where print ads really pay off, in their persistence and durability). This is paradoxically true even though the recipes (which are the reason to buy the magazines) are public domain, and in fact usually posted immediately for free on the magazines' websites. I imagine quite a few special-interest print ventures continue to do well.

Or they could all collapse tomorrow, for all I know. Which would annoy me because I am paid up for Cooking Light through the year 2021.
   41. simpleton & childlike gef the talking mongoose Posted: October 25, 2017 at 11:57 AM (#5561832)
Facebook tells me 7 newsroom employees were let go yesterday at my old newspaper in Little Rock. Like most -- all? -- newspapers these days, they're now starting to cut not fat, not muscle, but bone.

The only actual name I've heard is that of the deputy sports editor, which is a real loss, as the AME for sports is a noted idiot whose ignorance of sports is exceeded only by his ignorance of the English language. Yes, I'm referring to the "chinchilla of evidence" & "seated vicariously on a barstool" individual. Plus he hates baseball but loves softball.

(Morons like this who keep their jobs only because they apparently have photos of higher-ups -- highers-up? -- are, as always, an exception to the "cutting fat" principle.)
   42. PreservedFish Posted: October 25, 2017 at 12:05 PM (#5561840)
"chinchilla of evidence"


The mongoose's natural enemy. Other than snakes.
   43. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: October 25, 2017 at 12:05 PM (#5561842)
In the early frontier days of the Internet, the newspapers -- with little to no forethought -- foolishly decided to give their product away for free, thus greatly devaluing their product in the public eye as well as greatly harming their P & L.

They've never come close to recovering from that decision. And now for all but a very, very few media outlets, it's too late.
   44. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: October 25, 2017 at 12:09 PM (#5561846)
It's weird cuz we're in (coming to the end of?) a golden age in TV but the writing seems on the wall to me. I'm already seeing Netflix turn out as much schlock as it can to keep new series on the "air" with the added issue that I can binge the thing in one weekend so they've got to come up with something else new if they want my eyeballs back next weekend.


Coming to the end of. Peak TV was financed by the bundled cable bubble.
   45. Lassus Posted: October 25, 2017 at 12:16 PM (#5561851)
I subscribe to a bunch of cooking magazines, for instance, and while there has probably been some retrenchment there, and profit margins are doubtless thin, they seem to be doing as well as ever in a lot of respects. People will pay for the magazine, they will read it cover to cover, and it will sit around or be saved for quite a while

Being the effete elite pretend cook that I am, would you recommend anything beyond Food & Wine, Bon Appetite, and Cooks? (Seriously, Cooks is the bomb. Their banana bread recipe is worth whatever I've spent on that magazine from now until the end of time. I quite literally tossed my dead grandmother's recipe IN THE TRASH following.)
   46. simpleton & childlike gef the talking mongoose Posted: October 25, 2017 at 12:19 PM (#5561855)
Their banana bread recipe is worth whatever I've spent on that magazine from now until the end of time.)


This post is useless without said recipe.
   47. Lassus Posted: October 25, 2017 at 12:21 PM (#5561858)
This post is useless without said recipe.

Don't have it at work, will post later. The key is actually microwaving bananas to extract the essence and cooking that in.
   48. simpleton & childlike gef the talking mongoose Posted: October 25, 2017 at 12:39 PM (#5561875)
Sounds great; infinite thanks in advance. I had a banana pudding cupcake last night that really put me in the mood for banana bread.
   49. cmd600 Posted: October 25, 2017 at 01:06 PM (#5561904)
They've never come close to recovering from that decision.


Is there evidence that they would have been any more successful by charging for their product? We don't see any better results from pay-for equivalents.
   50. BDC Posted: October 25, 2017 at 01:17 PM (#5561916)
would you recommend anything beyond Food & Wine, Bon Appetite, and Cooks?

Saveur has the most interesting journalism, I think, though the story-to-recipe ratio is high. The ones that I get the most everyday recipes from are Cooking Light and Eating Well. But like you I have a few from Cooks that I have kept around forever. They have a lasagna that takes all afternoon to make, but they perfected every step of it and it's terrific.
   51. Lassus Posted: October 25, 2017 at 01:49 PM (#5561938)
Cooking Light and Eating Well

God, that sounds boring. But honestly, probably better for a place where I have to drive an hour to find a ####### celery root or monkfish. Also, I should be eating lighter.
   52. jmurph Posted: October 25, 2017 at 01:53 PM (#5561940)
Is there evidence that they would have been any more successful by charging for their product? We don't see any better results from pay-for equivalents.

Yep. I also feel like this "they gave away their content for free!" argument suffers from ignoring the fact that print newspapers were like 35 cents a copy in most of America. It's not like that was a major source of revenue- it presumably paid for the actual paper and ink?
   53. The Good Face Posted: October 25, 2017 at 02:03 PM (#5561944)
would you recommend anything beyond Food & Wine, Bon Appetite, and Cooks?


I'm partial to Cook's Illustrated. I think it's declining a bit since the founder left recently, and getting recipe access from their website is kind of like joining Scientology ("Oh, you want THAT recipe? You need to upgrade your membership to Cook's Illustrated Gold for that!"), but all their recipes are extensively, exhaustively tested, and rarely disappoint. Plus they typically explain the science behind their recipes and techniques, which broadens their applicability and makes you a better (or at least more informed) cook.
   54. JJ1986 Posted: October 25, 2017 at 02:09 PM (#5561948)
Was Fanrag sports really a place people went for writing? I picked an article at random to read and it's almost all nonsense:

Will Baker decision cost Nats a chance to keep Bryce Harper?
...
When the team fired/didn’t re-sign Dusty Baker as manager last week, it was a surprising move, but indications after recent comments by Harper suggest the 25-year-old wouldn’t mind a switch at the helm.
...
Even if he wanted Baker out, does Harper want to risk playing his prime seasons with a team that shows that it isn’t capable of having a manager in place for two or more seasons?
...
“I feel like this just sealed the deal on Harper to the Yankees,” one scout said.
   55. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 25, 2017 at 04:38 PM (#5562108)
I'm partial to Cook's Illustrated.

That's the one where they introduce every recipe by telling you all the many ways in which every other recipe they found produces horrible, inedible results and thus the multitude of ways you (and everyone else) will probably completely screw up the dish if you don't do it EXACTLY THEIR WAY, right?

That magazine intimidates me.
   56. Lassus Posted: October 25, 2017 at 04:45 PM (#5562118)
That magazine intimidates me.

Seriously. But it's worth it. I've quite frequently ignored the long article prior and gone right to the recipe, but they really are like CookThinkFactory. (I've never been to the website.)
   57. PreservedFish Posted: October 25, 2017 at 04:49 PM (#5562122)
The best recipes in the world are written by a guy named Kenji Lopez-Alt on the website Serious Eats. They follow the Cooks Illustrated style of exhaustively investigating different techniques and experimenting relentlessly. There are any number of total winners but his chocolate chip cookies recipe is a great place to start. Definitely intimidating but it's definitive. You read this, and you're done, you don't need other chocolate chip cookie recipes.

The resulting recipe is a lot of work (you brown the butter, for example, although that has the advantage of not needing to remember to warm the butter hours in advance) but it makes a ####### great cookie.
   58. Lassus Posted: October 25, 2017 at 04:53 PM (#5562126)
Thanks, PF. Although butter browning has been a bit of an Achilles heel for me.
   59. Lassus Posted: October 25, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5562128)
Whoops, double post.
   60. The Good Face Posted: October 25, 2017 at 05:02 PM (#5562137)
That's the one where they introduce every recipe by telling you all the many ways in which every other recipe they found produces horrible, inedible results and thus the multitude of ways you (and everyone else) will probably completely screw up the dish if you don't do it EXACTLY THEIR WAY, right?

That magazine intimidates me.


Yeah, but the upside is if you scrupulously follow their recipe and don't #### up you'll almost certainly get a good result. Plus there's plenty of room to tinker as long as you're not baking.

Their website is great in that you can find a recipe for pretty much any dish or ingredient, but it's terrible in that they're constantly upselling you and whatever recipe you want at that particular moment always seems to be behind yet another upgrade paywall.
   61. PreservedFish Posted: October 25, 2017 at 05:09 PM (#5562145)
Cooks Illustrated and Serious Eats are the only publications attempting to produce definitive recipes. If they're doing, say, pot roast, they'll try really hard to make a perfect pot roast. Every other magazine is just like ... "root vegetables are hot right now, let's do a recipe for pot roast with parsnips and celery root!"

Nothing wrong with the latter approach, it might make a fine dinner but it doesn't really teach you anything.
   62. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2017 at 06:09 PM (#5562159)
#32 ... sure, but is that 8 billion investment going to produce a 1 billion profit (and good TV) or is it intended to corner the market while losing a couple billion a year, then if that doesn't work Netflix gets sold for pennies on the dollar?

That they "need" to invest 8 billion is part of my point -- is that a viable business? Even if they push the price to $200 per year, that's 400 million subscribers (worldwide) just to cover production costs. Maybe that's doable (how would I know) but it sounds like a big risk to me.

And of course that's one streaming service. Will the others try to keep up, can they keep up, are there enough subscribers to support that? Or do we end up with Netflix, some specialty services and 20-year-old stuff on Amazon?

I hope they and others succeed. I particularly hope they succeed while paying the creative talents handsomely and producing stuff I want to watch. I hope lots of other services succeed in that way too.

Basically it's this. Apparently people are tired of paying $120/month for bundled cable. But I don't believe that they are interested in replacing that with 5-10 subscription services totalling $120/month. Even if they are, that's a break-even at best in terms of total revenue. But if revenue drops to $60/month then either we get less product or wages plummet or production costs plummet (or combinations thereof). Given how much schlock was produced under the old model, it's clearly possible that revenues could be cut by half but more money goes to "good" stuff ... but I'm not holding my breath. The schlock and endless repeats were part of a (presumably profitable) business model so I'm not seeing why I think that will change. (The Kardashians supposedly just signed a $200 million TV deal.)

#52 ... fair point but ... the print model was along the lines of "advertising produces profit while covering wages, etc. while subscriptions mostly covers production and distribution costs." Giving it away online was done under (a) a mis-belief that this would not become a hugely popular medium and (b) if it did, there'd be a way to generate similar ad revenue as print. (b) seems to have been totally wrong. They put themselves in the position where they were giving away online content for free without producing revenue from it.

It's not clear they had much of a choice. It's not like selling the physical paper for 35 cents and a subscription for $2 per week but the online version costs $10 per week because there's no ad revenue was going to be a viable model either. Maybe restricting online content to those with a print subscription from the start would have worked out OK -- at least people would have been used to paying for it but doesn't solve the ad revenue issue.

The bottom line is that there just aren't very many people willing to pay for news and information or at least not willing to pay very much. We've been getting it for free since at least the dawn of radio and for cheap since at least the dawn of the penny press. We want to be constantly entertained but seem increasingly reluctant to pay for that. Again, we've been getting that for free/cheap for a long time. Yet we seem decreasingly tolerant of advertising.

Sports of course made a partially successful transition from free on-air to pay cable ... but that model relied heavily on advertising revenue too and I'm not sure the subscription fees covered what the sports networks were paying for the rights.

Is there any evidence that mass entertainment can be produced on a consumer-supported basis without advertising? There are small examples like PBS (relying heavily on corporate sponsorship and government funding). The closest is the old movie industry that got by on ticket sales and subsequent syndication rights and eventually video rental, etc. Same with music. Even there, product placement and other ad tie-ins were increasingly common. And the music industry has been a bloodbath for everybody but about 10 musicians over the last 20 years.

So how do Netflix et al survive in the long run without ad revenue? I can see how Amazon (Apple, Google) might operate as a loss-leader to get you into their other services. If they can't survive without ad revenue, will consumers tolerate it?
   63. fra paolo Posted: October 25, 2017 at 06:31 PM (#5562167)
Is there any evidence that mass entertainment can be produced on a consumer-supported basis without advertising?

The BBC's licence fee, which is an annual tax on owning a television set. The BBC channels are free of advertising, except for cross-promotion of their own output.

It started under radio, and has served as a successful model for nearly a hundred years now.
   64. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 25, 2017 at 08:04 PM (#5562201)
The bottom line is that there just aren't very many people willing to pay for news and information or at least not willing to pay very much. We've been getting it for free since at least the dawn of radio and for cheap since at least the dawn of the penny press. We want to be constantly entertained but seem increasingly reluctant to pay for that.

That's mostly true, but then how do you account for the examples of the Times / Post / WSJ, all of which have managed to dodge the bullet and convince people to pay top dollar** for a quality product? Are we going to wind up with a tiny handful of "elite" media companies whose customers are willing to pay for high quality journalism, while the rest of them get trapped in a downward spiral of laid off reporters and folding newspapers?

** The price of the print edition of the Times has gone up 233% since October of 2000 for the daily edition, and 140% for the Sunday edition, while the overall CPI has increased only 42%.
   65. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 25, 2017 at 08:40 PM (#5562257)
. . . but then how do you account for the examples of the Times / Post / WSJ, all of which have managed to dodge the bullet and convince people to pay top dollar** for a quality product?

That's not really an accurate statement about those papers. The NYT has lost a ton of money over the last 15 years, and the Graham family unloaded the WaPo at a fraction of its former value. The Post had been propped up by its TV stations and non-newspaper assets for years. The Grahams specifically sought out Jeff Bezos because he was so rich profit & loss wouldn't be a major concern. The WSJ seems to be in a unique niche, no one else has been able to make a go of subscription-only access. Those who tried abandoned the effort rather quickly.
   66. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 25, 2017 at 09:42 PM (#5562322)
. . . but then how do you account for the examples of the Times / Post / WSJ, all of which have managed to dodge the bullet and convince people to pay top dollar** for a quality product?

That's not really an accurate statement about those papers. The NYT has lost a ton of money over the last 15 years, and the Graham family unloaded the WaPo at a fraction of its former value. The Post had been propped up by its TV stations and non-newspaper assets for years.


What the Times and the Post went through before straightening themselves out has nothing to do with their current financial condition. Their circulation is way up and they're both running at a profit. It's safe to predict that they'll be around to torture thugs like Trump for a lot longer than Trump will be around to torture the country.
   67. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: October 26, 2017 at 02:19 PM (#5563032)
The WSJ seems to be in a unique niche, no one else has been able to make a go of subscription-only access. Those who tried abandoned the effort rather quickly.


I wonder how much (if any) of this is attributable to companies buying WSJ subscriptions for their employees? I have digital access to WSJ through my employer, but I can't imagine many employers covering subscriptions for other newspapers.

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