A week or two ago, my Twitter feed started blowing up with talk about a new website, Boston Sport Journal. It immediately caught my attention, because I initially started blogging with some friends on a similar-named website back in 2004. Also, I follow a LOT of Boston sports.
Think of how much you should follow something and then multiply it by a hundred. That’s what a neophyte would spend to follow as much Boston sports as I do. I’m greatly exaggerating to get the point across. And if you hate Boston sports, that’s cool and you can keep on reading. I’m going to write generically, and you can follow along as if it were something you might be interested, even if it happens to be the Jets and Yankees.
(Side Note: I want to specifically state that I was NOT paid for this review. These people probably don’t know that this website exists.)
There were three unique things about this website from the start.
1. The People Involved
The website is started by Greg Bedard, Sean McAdam, and Christopher Price. Or at least those were the first names attached. Bedard worked for Sport Illustrated for years, but I remember mostly with The Boston Globe from 2010-2013. McAdam has been covering the Red Sox in paper, radio, and TV for at least a decade now. He’s everywhere. Christopher Price is a newer name to me, but the only person who covers the New England Patriots like him is Mike Reiss.
These three journalists shouldn’t even be available. They wouldn’t be… except there been big layoffs at Sports Illustrated and ESPN. I don’t pretend to know the sports journalism industry, but it is hyper-competitive nowadays. Here are a couple of articles on that topic.
2. The Business Model
This is one of the few content website start-ups I’ve seen that are looking to charge a subscription on day one. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people aren’t used to paying for content on the Internet. As John Oliver has covered before, this is a very bad thing.
However, we all like to save money and there’s a lot of free information out there. There’s so much that it’s impossible for anyone to keep track of what’s being published every day.
The pricing is around $5 a month, but it gets cheaper if you are willing to pay up front for a 1 year or 3 year commitment. You can even buy a lifetime membership. Students get special pricing and active duty military is free. (I didn’t see a senior discounts, which all that I can think is missing.)
Will people pay for sports content when the free model doesn’t seem to be keeping great journalists involved? That’s the elephant in the room.
The other potential problem is that there will still be ads. As they say, “We also need the right corporate sponsors to help offset our travel expenses so we can be your eyes and ears when the teams are away from Fenway, Gillette and TD Garden.”
I would think those travel expenses get quite expensive. Fortunately, as a personal finance blogger, I don’t need to travel.
3. What if the Website was Done Differently and Better?
Here is a great pitch from their about page:
Other things we can promise you:
- Our coverage will be hyperlocal to Boston and New England. If it doesn’t matter to you, it doesn’t matter to us.
- No clickbait articles or contrived opinions. While we will be striving to provide exclusive, interesting and unique news and analysis, we’re not going to be outlandish just to gain attention. We will mean what we say, and say what we mean. And if we don’t? Call us out on it. Our focus comes back to one thing: is it the coverage you want and deserve.
- There will be no discussion about politics. We want to this to be an oasis from the outside world.
- We will be interactive and accessible. Lots of Q&As, mailbags, in-game chats and Tweet-ups. Podcasts, videos and other multimedia projects are in the works. The only wall at BSJ is the paywall. Once inside, we are here for you. Want my opinion on a blown coverage from a Patriots game? Ask somewhere and I’ll give you my best insight. Same goes for the rest of the staff.
- We will not clutter up your experience with annoying ads and autoplay videos. We want this to be a place where you feel at home and never want to leave. We’ll be striving to make it the best experience possible for you.
The use of clickbait on the Internet has become a real problem in my opinion. I try to stay away from that kind of stuff as best I can. (Unfortunately, sometimes I accidentally write a title that turns out to be more clickbait that I thought.)
The politics discussion should go without saying, but unfortunately that isn’t the case for one Boston sports radio station. It doesn’t help that it’s very right when the community is very left. You’d think it would hurt ratings, but it seems to be a contrived opinion and a radio version of clickbait to get calls. The callers call in and then get cut down even when they are have good opinions. However, they usually only take calls where they can easily disprove the point of view. Interestingly sports discussion has taken a backstage to his form of entertainment cesspool. (Now you know how I really feel.)
Some of the rest of their promises might sound like the kind of thing that you get here. I try to interact with you as much as possible. I eliminated most of the annoying ads (I think). Of course, I don’t charge you anything so I need to keep the ads.
Back around 2010, I had hoped to launch Be Better Now as a self-improvement website with a similar style. I couldn’t find the time or the right partners to pull the website together as I had hoped. I have high hopes that someday I will be able to make it into a great community of content and people.
In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on Boston Sports Journal. I’m curious to see if it works.