Thursday, December 2, 2004

Good News, Bad News

THE GOOD: There's now a semi-organized archive of Bill Simmons ESPN writings

THE BAD: Click on any link, say Top-10 Most Tortured City??? and you'll see a paragraph (if you're lucky) followed by an ad - "Want to read the whole article? Open your wallet, insert vacuum."

Probably a good way to increase near-term revenue for, but a bad sign for Bill Simmons (and me). It's only a matter of time before they move Bill's Boston Sports Guy entirely behind the "pay" wall, leaving him a much smaller audience (smaller at least by one - me). And really, he's the only reason I go to ESPN at all anymore.

Is moving all of their best content into their premium "Insider" package really the best long-term move? Do writers like Bill want a small, devoted "customer-base" OR do they want to be cultural institutions? In the long run, will ESPN be able to attract the best talent once they've managed to reduce their audience to the 5% of their current visitors that are willing to pay?

Is this all just a short-term cash-grab by Disney, parent of ESPN? Is there anything wrong with that?

And if you've got $40 to spend on a sports site, isn't Baseball Prospectus going to give you a better bang for your buck? (Even if they're currently overhauling their subscription process...)

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