Some big news in sports journalism circles related to The Athletic this week. From Axios:
The Athletic, a subscription-based digital sports media company, raised $40 million in a series C funding round. With this investment, the company has raised a total of $70 million since its launch in 2016, and is valued at roughly $200 million, according to sources familiar with the deal.
I’m not super interested in the funding part of this. I’ll be honest — I don’t know enough about venture capital to talk about it. I don’t know what this means, both on a pragmatic day-to-day level for a company or from a larger, what-does-it-all-mean? level. Honestly, I don’t think a lot of us do know enough about VC funding to speculate about what it may or may not mean.
What I’m interested is this:
The money will be used to invest in audience, data and editorial teams that drive subscriptions, per Athletic co-founder Alex Mather, as well as podcasts and video teams. Prior funds were used to poach veteran sports journalists with big salaries. (emphasis mine)
This seems to be a big shift in The Athletic’s focus. For most of their first two years, they have focused their hiring and their promotion on good writing (Galen Clavio and I are finishing up a study on this). Writing, not video, has been the thing.
The creation of podcast and video teams marks a potential evolution on what The Athletic is doing. That’s not a criticism. But it is the interesting aspect of this week’s news.