We have speculated on the long term viability of Greg Bedard’s Bostonsportsjournal.com for some time. It’s a difficult marketplace with local print offerings and a pay competitor in the Athletic with a vastly superior product. It’s been obvious if you watch subscriber growth announcements that subscriber growth at Bedard’s site is stagnating. For the first time we have the receipts. Everything below is courtesy of @bucknerslegs, and told in his own words. There’s a lot to digest, but it paints a picture of a business model that is struggling. There are many reasons for that, which BJBSJ will be getting into in the coming weeks.
And with that:
I’ve been tracking the subscriber count at the BostonSportsJournal since shortly after it began. I grab the subscriber count about once a week, and then calculate the average subscribers per day over that week. Now that it is nearing 10,000 subscribers, I thought I’d take look at how the subscriber rate has changed over time. In this first graph, I plotted the subscribers added since the start of the year for 2017, 2018 and 2019. Since 2017 started in the middle of the year, the initial growth was reasonably impressive, adding nearly 7000 subscribers in about six months. In 2018, however, everything started to slow down. Just under 3000 subscribers were added for the full year. And 2019 is not looking good. At all. 36 days into 2019, and only 136 subscribers have signed up. In 2018, there were already 659 new subscribers. Wow. I don’t need to watch film to know that that ain’t impressive.
In this graph, each 1000 subscriber count level is plotted by number of days it took to get there. The 1000, 2000 and 3000 levels were really quick, at less than 10 days for each. It took another 16 days to reach 4000, and an additional 21 days for 5000. The 6000 level took 69 (Gronk!) days. The BSJ caught a break with both Christmas gifts and the 2018 Guerrero news boosting to 7000 in only 50 days. However, it was soon back to the grind with 94 days to 8000, 162 days to 9000 and a projected 204 days to reach 10000. That would be April 11. However, the drive to 10k was boosted tremendously by the Black Friday sale, so it may take longer at the current normal rate.
One of my favorite graphs is shown below. This graph shows the cumulative subscribers per day, as well as the weekly average subscribers per day. Note that in 2017, BSJ was averaging about 10 subscribers per day. Throughout 2018, that average dropped to just under 5 per day. Since September 2018, the average subscribers per day has been well below 5. The spikes in subscriber base are noted. Amazingly, no significant bumps in rate of subscribers for any of the Super Bowls or World Series. There have been three championship events in Boston in the last three years, and BSJ did not manage to capitalize on any of them directly. There was a bigger bump from the Guerrero rumor-mongering than the actual Super Bowl coverage. WOW!
And, as a side note, I projected best and worst case subscriber only revenue per year for the current subscriber base. Best case scenario, everyone pays monthly. Worst case scenario, everyone signed up for a three year membership. Best case revenue stands at $ $ 590,537.45. Worst case is $ $ 252,692.36. Reality is probably somewhere in between. This assumes that all subscribers are paid and active. There is some question if subscriber numbers include cancellations. Also, military discounts are given and complimentary subscriptions are rumored, which would lower revenue. Ad revenue is not included.