A few weeks ago, the Miami Herald rolled out a new sports-only digital subscription. Now, another McClatchy-owned paper, the Kansas City Star, has announced their own, basically-identical version, right down to the wording of the announcement, from Star sports editor Jeff Rosen:
You asked for it, and we’re delivering.
The Kansas City Star has launched Sports Pass: a sports-only digital subscription for those who want to stay up to date on everything in the Kansas City-area sports scene.
For $30 a year — just $2.50 a month — Sports Pass is your ticket to everything sports-related on Kansascity.com. As a subscriber, you will have unlimited digital access to every sports story The Star publishes, with no limits.
When the Herald announced their version, which is also $30, our Matt Yoder wondered if it was potentially a way for newspapers to fight back against The Athletic:
For what it’s worth, the $30 a year price point is cheaper than a subscription to The Athletic, which currently offers subscribers a $3.99 monthly price for a one-year subscription and $9.99 month-to-month.
Miami is not one of the cities on The Athletic’s roster at the moment. Perhaps this move is an offensive one from the Herald to try to boost their sports coverage and stake their claim in the marketplace. It would be tougher for The Athletic to come into Miami with a subscription sports service already on offer for the local fanbase. One example of The Athletic’s power came when they recently launched the Atlanta section of the website and snatched multiple writers from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In the short-term, this probably is an effective measure to counteract the spread of The Athletic, especially in those markets where it already hasn’t launched as of yet.
The Athletic does already have a presence in Kansas City, meaning this strategy (apparently a directive from the corporate level, given the identical nature of the models) is more than just playing defense against The Athletic. Obviously, the growth and initial success of The Athletic’s model has newspapers rethinking their own strategies, although you’d think they would have been doing that already given how that industry has changed over the past few decades.
This could be a way for papers to streamline, essentially offering a la carte coverage options; sports, in particular, tends to have a younger, more tech-savvy demographic, an age group for whom the idea of subscribing to a newspaper is a foreign concept. Subscribing to digital sports coverage, though? The Athletic has already helped forge that path, and this will be cheaper, if more narrowly focused.
But for city papers, this is a way to maximize revenue for things they’re essentially already doing, and possibly a way to tap into a market they haven’t had in a while. Given the shared nature of the Star and Herald announcements, it’s possible that other McClatchy papers (The Sacramento Bee, The Charlotte Observer, and more) could look to implement the same sort of platform, either soon or in the future if the concept works in Miami and Kansas City.
For now, though, that’s a big if.