Posts Tagged ‘Chris Botta’

September 8th, 2009

Is Anybody in Online Media Making Money?

Over the weekend, I was sorry to read the news at  the New York Times that NYI Point Blank, the operation started by former Islanders PR head Chris Botta with the support of the team, was facing an uncertain future.  While I was never a fan of Botta’s blog box, his achievements at Point Blank were undeniable, and I was happy to cast my vote for him for the Unsung Hero Award given earlier this year by the Hockey Barn Writers Association.

To make a long story short, after a year, the team has decieded to scale back its financial support, and Botta told the NYT he has yet to secure the sort of sponsorship he’ll need in order to continue.  As most free agent bloggers already know, the work most of us do is a labor of love, one where the returns are mostly intangible, even though there are notable exceptions like David Pinto at Baseball Musings who have managed to make it a business on their own.

But it isn’t just independent bloggers who are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to make a profit in the online content business.  On the same day Jeff Klein’s piece on Botta and Point Blank ran in the NYT, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was passing along  the following story at Blog Maverick:

This summer, in response to the changing sports media landscape, I wanted to create a “media pool” for the Mavs. I wanted to assemble a group of unpaid interns that would acquire video, write game reports, track unique stats, do interviews, interact with fans, and then compile all of this incremental media and provide it free to any and every outlet we could think of. If a middle school newspaper or website wanted up to the minute Mavs reports, check. We had em. Social networks ? All the content you need. Of course we would update our Mavs.com, mavswiki.com, friends.mavs.com websites and offer the content to any and every blogger out there.

The good news is that we would create fresh content and make it available in realtime. Call it “Event Driven” media. The bad news is that there was no way we were going to be able to charge for it. Nor was there any assurances that we could generate enough traffic for the content that we could reasonably believe that we could earn any advertising revenue. In fact, it probably would have cost us more to try to sell advertising via ad networks (contracts, monitoring, reports) than we could recoup in ad revenues.

Given we were lightyears from this being a self sustaining business, and that with the economy in the shitter we didnt have excess financial resources to subsidize this effort, I decided to use unapid interns.

Ouch.  If the owner of a team can’t make it work financially, it’s hard to think of who might actually be able to make a go of it.