A very, very interesting concept from Pittsburgh sports writer Dejan Kovacevic

21 Jul

Dejan Kovacevic, one of Pittsburgh’s most trusted names in sports journalism, is taking his personal brand in a new direction: he’s detaching himself from the Steel City’s legacy news outlets and starting up his own site.

As reported by the Pittsburgh Business Times, Kovacevic, who’s accumulated 55,000 Twitter followers, is convinced that the following he’s built over the years, writing for both the Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review, will go with him to his new site.

“I believe in the readership that I have,” said Kovacevic. “They’d followed me once from the PG over to the Trib. And I believe that there’s enough of a connection there that the more diehard Pittsburgh sports fan will follow again to this platform.”

The key here is that he’s going to charge a subscription rate, running between $1.50 and $4 a month, depending on how long a subscriber signs on for. He’s taking a huge gamble, hoping that the people who’ve come to know his work – many of whom were likely getting his work for free – will now be willing to fork over a small sum to keep it going.  (He’s also going to sell ads, but there’s still so little money in those that his subscriptions will have to pay the bills in the short term.)

But like many, he’s going with the metered paywall model, allowing readers to access up to 10 articles per month. Depending how much he files, that could be as much as a third of his monthly output. Most beat reporters these days write 1 or 2 stories per day, five days a week, so Kovacevic’s plan to write 3 or 4 columns per week plus bits and pieces seems a little light but he’s clearly putting his money where his mouth his, believing that what he has to say is much more important than how often he says it.d

Speaking from a web-traffic point of view, he’s got a chance. Given how many page views he’s suggested (in the millions, which seems accurate), he’s not unlike several of my colleagues here at the Province, who we’ve learned drive traffic as much by their name as they do by their stories. There are a couple easy traffic-driving tick-boxes for us: one is name, the other is team. A Canucks story will always do best. Lions and Whitecaps are well beneath the hockey team, even in the dead of summer, while everything else lies far beneath. Every once in a while a compelling story with a good headline grabs our readers’ attention, but it’s the authors, on the whole, who drive traffic.

This is a project worth watching.


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