Good news for sports fans who subscribe to The New York Times’s all-access digital bundle (or get home delivery): your subscription now includes free access to The Athletic.
The New York Times bought the sports news site for $550 million in cold hard cash back in January, but it’s only this week that bundle subscribers are being offered the chance to hop The Athletic’s paywall.
A slide deck presented to investors by The New York Times earlier this month announced the addition and shed light on what the Times hoped to gain by acquiring the 5-year-old sports news site. The Times sees a “highly attractive opportunity” to cross-sell individual subscriptions and — crucially — add value to its bundle because of the “modest” overlap between subscribers to the Times and the 1.26 million with a standalone subscription to The Athletic, the deck explained. The Athletic joins Cooking, Games, Wirecutter, and, of course, news in that all-access digital bundle.
Unsurprisingly, The New York Times sees multi-product subscribers as the most valuable. They pay the most, retain the best, and engage more than any single-product subscriber group. (Bundle subscribers churn at rates 40% lower than subscribers who pay for the basic news-only subscription, according to the Times.)
In addition to bolstering its bundle, the Times plans to implement a more flexible paywall at The Athletic to give potential subscribers a chance to sample the sports content. It will also use the Times’ digital advertising muscle to “unlock significant advertising revenue” at The Athletic, which currently brings in under $10 million in ad revenue each year through limited sponsorships and has no display advertising.
The Times, which has been experimenting with personalization including geotargeting in its news division, also highlighted The Athletic’s customized notifications. “Following one or more leagues is one of our strongest predictors of retention,” according to the Times.