Things are about to get a lot better around here.
Welcome to the new Crossing Broad.
It’s been a slow summer, to be sure. I decided months ago to take on this undertaking to get CB to the next level. The process has been longer than I expected, and as a result this site has slowed to a crawl for the past few weeks. That grinds my gears more than you know. But it was the right time of year to take a step back so we can fucking leap forward.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, there has been a lot of turmoil in the sports media landscape this year. From ESPN to blogs, outlets have been pushing writers out left and right, all as part of the web’s shift to video– not because it’s a better format, but because it makes more money. Why? The advertiser-supported model that almost all content sites have relied on for years has consistently come under attack. Publishers and advertisers have gamed the system for years, with things like slideshows, pop-up ads, clickbait, page refreshes and so on. That has resulted in a cratering of online advertising rates for the written word. But now that video technology has caught up – everyone has a high-speed connection in their pockets – the focus has shifted to video, where publishers can game the system in new ways until history repeats itself and those ad rates crater. I’ve never been one to chase trends on CB, as evidenced by the fact that our layout and format has remained largely the same since the site first launched in 2009:
The site may look a bit more modern now, but we haven’t changed much. We’ve just kept coming. If I had a dime for every time a new website, blog, podcast or whatever popped up and people said “CB is toast,” I’d have roughly $1.80. But still, none of them impacted us. The site has continued to grow. Sure, there have been some changes. For example, the short, quirky updates of goofy screenshots and similar fare has become a commodity business not worth participating in, as every media outlet in existence has scores of 20-somethings sitting around ready to produce the next piece of #content. But ultimately the tone and vision of the site has remained largely the same.
The latest trend is subscription-based sites. Paywalls. For good reason. The media industry has just now figured out that any business where customers pay you is a good one. This isn’t some grand revelation– it’s just making its way to media now that we’ve hit a shitty ad tipping point. Indeed this has impacted us to some degree. The Google Surveys we used for years paid extraordinarily well, but as they are wont to do, Google changed their algorithm – they decided they could show them to their own users in apps and other properties – which cratered fill on this site, leading to an unexpected drop in revenue. It stung, no doubt, but I was able to adjust and added the new surveys that everyone hates. They, too, pay well, but the experience isn’t as good (we’ve since had them dial back the number of questions you see since some were getting into double-digits). This is why the paywall has taken hold in media– fewer paying readers are much more profitable than many non-paying ones.
But I didn’t spend the last seven…
… years building up an audience of 250k readers per month just to tell some subset of them to fuck off with a paywall. No shot. There’s a percentage of people who will just never pay to read something online, and I don’t want to lose them because a trend in media says paywalls are the only way. In fact, unlike many other outlets, we don’t rely solely on advertising. Specifically, apparel and (soon) events are a big part of our business. That’s why I’ve been pushing our t-shirts so hard– they’re profitable! So we’re in a bit of a unique situation. Do we chase the trend and put the site behind a paywall, leaving a bunch of you – who helped build the site – in its wake, or do we embrace our reach, find a couple of investors who believe in what we do, hire a fuck ton of writers, give you the option to subscribe to better your experience and get even more content, and kick everyone else’s ass in the process? I like the latter, and I trust that fucking process.
So what have I been up to? Well, three things.
- I got investors.
- Hired a fuck ton of writers.
- Created a premium subscriber option.
Investors. Fuck ton of writers. Subscription option.
Investors. Fuck ton of writers. Subscription option.
Are you getting it? These aren’t three separate things– they’re one thing, and they make up the new Crossing Broad. Today, we kick everyone’s ass.
It turns out, you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley to get people to invest in your little media play. Nope. You can just mention that you’re looking for investors in an AMA on your own site and have two local guys, Philly sports fans, come to you eager to take over the city.
That’s what Jeff Wuhl, a cardiologist, and Mike Iredale, who runs his own staffing firm, did. They first contacted me months ago – early this year – about being a part of the site and helping it grow. It took a while for me to get my act together and figure out the best and most efficient use of funds, but we connected this summer, convening at our now official deal making spot, the Goat’s Beard in Manayunk, and hammered out the details. Both guys are hardcore Philly sports fans, Sixers season ticket holders, and get what CB is all about. Mike is the kind of guy who will tell you about his courtside seats, Jeff saves lives. Whatever. They’re media moguls now. The three of us quickly developed a working rapport and decided that we were going to embrace the best parts of CB and focus on that. Specifically, we noticed that the trend in paywall sites ignores the same thing that newspapers ignored once upon a time– the fan mindset. Most, if not all, of these sites have largely ex-newspapermen. The kind of guys who go on podcasts and speak in awe about the World Wide Web, like it’s some foreign seductress that will save them from their print hell, even if their site ironically uses a skeuomorphic newspaper design online in 2017. Great reporters? Yes. But in many cases, this new fad has eschewed and indeed turned its nose up at the fun and casual atmosphere that has made online sports coverage so appealing. So we went out and hired guys who we think will fit right in here, while at the same time expanding our coverage.
In relative order of appearance, here’s who is now working for Crossing Broad:
Kevin covered the Union for Philly Voice and was considered by many Unions fans to be, by far, the best guy on that beat. He’s going to take those skills and focus heavily on the Sixers and Eagles for us. Kevin manages to blend both super in-depth and informative coverage with his take-no-shit personality. He has also written for Philly Views, where readers raved about his commentary on the local sports talk radio landscape. Kevin is also a former CBS 3 sports producer, so he’s seen sports coverage from all sides. He will be starting on September 11.
I know– he wants out of Cleveland, too.
But for real, his literally unbelievable name aside, Kevin is outstanding. He somehow manages to blend wit into his lengthy Sixers video breakdown pieces, which are so approachable that you will almost be mad you learned something by the time you reach the end of them. Kevin has written for several blogs about the Sixers and produces the Sixers Science podcast.
This is from Sean’s bio, which I asked him to send along: “Other passions include the NFL draft, Temple University, Philly sports and quantum mechanics. It bothers me when people are wrong on the internet.”
I want to marry that line. Like, get down on one knee and propose to it… and then look up what the fuck quantum mechanics means.
Sean will be doing Eagles deep dives, giving smart breakdowns on Monday, and then debunking the hot take of the week on Wednesday. He’s terrific, and smart. The best brain.
One of our young guns, Chris used write for Philly Mag’s ever popular Birds 24/7 and SB Nation, and worked at KYW Radio. He will be handling daily Roundups, updates and social content.
Another young guy, Tyler works at a velodrome, is a sports producer at WFMZ, and has written for like six publications, including Philly Influencer. He’ll split duties with Chris.
You may know Bob as “Rizzo” from Barstool Philly. He will be posting frequently, mostly about the Phillies. Poor guy.
The Philly sports satirist known for the site of the same name will be switching gears and bringing his unique brand of humor to actual commentary pieces. In his first effort, I had to tell him to tone down his murderous lede about local sports talk radio.
Jim has written about fantasy sports for ESPN for 10 years. He’s a numbers geek, funny, and owns an iconic Phillies throwback jacket from Mitchell & Ness.
Tim actually wrote for our Crosswalk way back when. All I know is that he went to Penn and uses big words.
A lawyer by day, Keidel just wants to write about sports.
That’s not everyone. We are looking for talented people for all sorts of roles. If you think you’d be a good fit, reach out to me. And if you’re one of the many people I’ve spoken to and owe a response to, hang tight– we’re not done. There are several other people we’d like to add in some capacity, and I literally just didn’t have enough minutes to get them on board. So this group is just the start.
So what do you get and how much does it cost? $3.99 per month (or $39.99 for the year). Here’s what you get:
No ads. No surveys. No autoplay videos. No BS.
As a subscriber, you will not see any slow-loading ads. This includes ads from ad networks, pop-ups, autoplay video and surveys. Besides ruining the experience, these programmatic ads slow loading time significantly. In fact, most site loading time comes from multiple ad networks running script on the page every time it loads. Without ads, the site will load almost instantly. We may still show you direct sponsors, who have come to us specifically to reach Crossing Broad readers. Unlike ad networks ads, direct sponsorship banners or messaging won’t slow loading time and are specifically crafted to keep the focus on content.
Each week, an estimated 3-5 posts will be for subscribers only. These won’t be just any posts. Our shorter, more traditional posts will remain available for all to see. But subscribers will get access to our longer, more in-depth posts, including weekly mailbags from our writers focusing on a specific team or topic.
Daily Roundup newsletter
Our Roundup, which includes the latest news and updates to bring you up to speed on Philly sports in a way only Crossing Broad can, will be posted each weekday at around 9 a.m. Subscribers will get it emailed to them for ease of use in keeping up when on the go.
Full app-access (coming soon)
We are building an app that will feature everything on the website. Subscribers will get an ad free experience and full access to all stories. Coming at the end of September.
20% off apparel
As a subscriber, you will receive 20% off all apparel from CrossingBroadStore.com. Once you subscribe, you will receive an email with an exclusive discount code.
Subscriber-only meet and greets
This is where you get the real story. The stuff we can’t post. Several times per year we will hold subscriber-only events at local establishments where you can hang out with writers and contributors and find out about all the stuff we can’t post. This is the perfect place to, say, show you those angry emails from a leading sports talk radio Afternoon host. Or that T.O. pic. Or just gossip about the Philly sports media landscape. This may be worth the subscription price alone.
Interested? Subscribe now.
Look, if you want to support the site, subscribing is the best way to do it. As I said before, having paying customers is a much better business model and allows the flexibility to go out and hire more writers. Two readers have put their hard-earned cash in to kick things off. I’ve spent the summer working on business plans, hiring writers, and getting the site to work with all the changes. Just this week I’ve recorded two podcasts, had a meeting with the investors, spent hours setting up the paywall to make sure it doesn’t show you ads, video-chatted with a guy in the Dominican Republic who helped me with coding, spent two hours on the phone with a lawyer who put the finishing touches on our contract, set up nine new writers on the site, edited their posts, and wrote out all the promotional copy for the subscription. I want to take this site to the next level. Unlike other sites, we will continue to embrace all that is fun about being a Philly sports fan. We don’t have an editor from a Baltimore newspaper. Everyone, from our once-per-week contributors to Jeff and Mike all live and breathe Philly sports. We know exactly what you want, and now we’re going to give it to you. No contempt for the reader. No serif-ed font. Philly sports coverage, the way we’ve always done it, but better. If that sounds like something you will like, then subscribe so I can show you those emails.
What’s next? Starting today, we will be rolling out our new writers. There will be a podcast posted at 11 discussing the changes. Tomorrow, I’ll do an AMA to take your questions. We’re hitting the ground running. It’s fucking on.
Note: If you had already subscribed to dismiss surveys, you’ll be getting an email from me today. We’re using a new system to handle subscriptions, so I will send you information on how to update your subscription and give you a discount.