Sporting News Relevant Again

In today’s digital world it’s easy to forget about those print publications we used to love years ago that never made the transition to digital. For sports fans, The Sporting News fit that category until last week. In what I see as the first serious industry attempt at virtual newspaper delivery, The Sporting News publishes a Digital Daily delivered to your email each morning at 7AM.

Sporting News Today differentiates itself from a typical newsletter or e-mail update because it actually reads like a newspaper. Instead of waking up with it on your front stoop, it waiting in the email box. Sporting News uses a flexible reader that allows you to read it exactly as a newspaper. A Table of Contents with links to each section of the paper, a tool that displays each page of the publication and allows the user to go to any page by clicking on it, and it has box scores. All the box scores on one page. I’ve been waiting for years to see this online. Who wants to click through 14 web links to see all the boxscores each morning.

Within a week the publication boasts 70,000 subscribers. However, management wants to wait to reach 200,000 before selling advertisers. The few ads thus far are from current advertising partners. No doubt they will reach that number, but the question remains how many will actually read the daily. When subscriptions are free, it’s easy to sign up online. Sporting News’ biggest problem is getting into the game late. Most users instinctively go to ESPN, CBS, or Yahoo for sports online, now Sporting News needs to reach those users and find a way to change their habits with less notable reporters.

Sporting News has made a strong digital push this year, hiring a number of bloggers earlier in the year, now reinventing the newspaper online. Still, it might be too little, too late to regain the market share they once enjoyed. The digital newspaper format works well. How long until a bigger brand comes around, does it better, does it with bigger names, and a bigger starting subscriber base? Also raises a question I’ve wondered for some time, where are local newspapers in the digital push? With ad revenue disappearing in print, why not try to deliver online with more than a website.

Digital newspapers translate to mobile even better. If formatted correct, they are perfect to read on today’s smartphones. Or, users can print the entire paper and take it to go. Will the advertisers come?


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