The Athletic

Meet the media brands exploring new business models


With digital news hit by a crisis of profitablity, a new crop of media brands are developing bespoke revenue models that rely on their subscribers, members and supporters’ desire for quality, in-depth journalism.

Trying to a turn a profit in the world of online journalism is tough. As Google and Facebook’s stranglehold over advertising dollars continues to strengthen, media sites debate whether to stick with an ad-supported model, opt for sponsored content, introduce a paywall and rely on subscriptions or gain support via donations.

A new crop of sites believe they have found the answer with ad-free, clickbait-proof premium journalism they are convinced readers will pay to read.

Remaining independent is crucial for online investigations site Bellingcat, for example, which uses crowdfunding membership site Patreon to generate donations. Monthly prices start at $4 (around £3.28) for a no-frills donation, while $8 (£6.56) gives supporters access to Bellingchat, a platform where the team are interviewed on their investigative process.

Then there is Slowe, the website celebrating women’s sport, which uses donation site Ko-fi to let supporters ‘buy them a coffee’, the equivalent of a £3 micro-donation.

One of the most prominent sites in this current crop is US sports media brand The Athletic. The site hit the headlines this month when it launched in the UK with a roster of 55 journalists poached from the likes of the BBC and the Guardian, as well as a host of local newspapers.

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