In the end, Yahoo’s planned subscription site for the New York Mets may go down as one of the most-discussed sports media projects to never get off the ground. Back in February, Yahoo and the Mets agreed to a reported three-year deal for a subscription site (then set to launch March 28) which would feature writers, columnists, and special events for subscribers to interact with the likes of GM Brodie Van Wagenen (which is what the fee Yahoo was paying, supposedly $1 million annually, was supposed to be for). However, that site wound up delayed, with reports in May that the delay was thanks to MLB trying to get other clubs similar deals and that the plan was then for an “early June” launch of the Mets’ site. But June came and went with no site, and as Andrew Marchand of The New York Post now reports, Yahoo has now apparently abandoned the plan for a Mets’ subscription site altogether:
The Post has learned that the Yahoo platform has gone the way of the Mets’ season — down the drain.
“We’ve realized that there are opportunities which have the ability to scale faster and give fans what they want quicker,” a Yahoo spokeswoman said in a statement to The Post. “We’ve learned a ton during this exploration and intend to use these insights to inform the future of the fan experience through Yahoo Sports.”
There are several notable further tidbits in Marchand’s piece. He writes that no payments were actually exchanged because the site never launched, that there were talks with other teams but nothing was decided, and that Yahoo plans to keep the writers they hired for the site (Wallace Matthews, Matt Ehalt, Mike Mazzeo and Gerard Gilberto) to cover sports for them (with a focus on baseball). But perhaps most significantly, he writes that they’re “choosing to invest the money in other Yahoo entities and in sports with [an] eye still on the subscription space.”
It will be quite interesting to see what that eye on the subscription space actually means, especially after this project didn’t actually wind up being launched. While there were some question marks around Yahoo’s Mets plan, there was also some logic to it; people have sometimes been willing to pay for an intense focus on a single team (especially in college sports, where the likes of Rivals, Scout and 247 have long run subscription sites based on that idea), and the ability to throw in VIP subscriber experiences seemed like it might help differentiate the Yahoo offering. But Yahoo couldn’t get it to work in the end, so that raises questions about what opportunities they’re now targeting that could “scale faster.” We’ll see what they’re up to there.
But on another front, while this is a business deal rather than anything with the on-field Mets, this still seems like an appropriate symbol for the way things have gone for that franchise over the past few years. Since their appearance in the 2015 World Series (where they lost in five games to the Kansas City Royals), it’s been a rough road for that club; selected Metsing highlights include Matt Harvey’s downturn, the team signing Jose Reyes despite widespread fan opposition, the team giving Tim Tebow’s signing to the director of marketing because the scout in question didn’t want him, the countless injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, the new GM (an agent with no front office experience) throwing a chair in meetings, the manager and a player threatening a reporter and getting criticized by their own broadcasters, and a literal fire breaking out at Citi Field. Oh, and now the team’s being criticized for sightline-blocking foul pole advertising for Chik-Fil-A (right before their Pride Night, too). So, yeah, maybe this is not the ideal team to start a new business concept with. Unless you like having everything possible go wrong.