Boston Globe Is Now the Dollar Store of Dailies

November 22, 2018

Recipients of the latest Boston Globe Weekender newsletter were greeted with this cheery offering from local scribe Michael Andor Brodeur.

From now through what is still for some reason called “Cyber Monday,” Weekenders can score a one-year subscription to the Globe online for just a buck a week for a year. I just did the math on that and it comes out to just $52, which is objectively less than other prices (including the usual $360).

 

Stop the presses!

On second thought, don’t. For several years now the Globeniks have staked their future on expanded digital revenues, as the redoubtable Dan Kennedy noted last month in Media Nation.

[T]he paper is reporting that it has passed the 100,000 level for digital-only subscriptions, a benchmark the paper’s executives had originally hoped to reach by the end of June. Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal has the details.

When I interviewed Globe editor Brian McGrory for “The Return of the Moguls” nearly two years ago, he said the paper would start to look like a sustainable business if it could hit 200,000.

 

Not to be the skunk at the garden party, but given that 1) the Globe introduced its paywall in 2011, and 2) it’s taken seven years to get to 100,000 digital-only subscribers, the question remains: Will Globe owner John Henry have the patience to wait until 2025 for the paper “to look like a sustainable business”?

As the BBJ’s Seiffert noted:

[G]etting to the second 100,000 subscriptions will be a heavy lift for a paper like the Globe that’s bound by geography. Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, said in an email interview a couple weeks ago regarding the Globe’s digital progress that “as with print circulation, (digital) growth can be hard to sustain.”

“It takes marketing, a steady effort to convert people to fully paid, keeping renewal rates up and replacing churned subs with new ones at the discounted price,” said Edmonds. “If times are tight and (Globe owner) John Henry is impatient with losses as he has said — I can see the budget for all of that being cut back.”

 

Maybe even cut back to a dollar a week.

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In Boston Herald Sale, Employees Are the Wishbone

January 3, 2018

Full disclosure: The hardreading staff forgot to get an MBA, so we might be off in this analysis. But the two bids to buy the Boston Herald clearly have very different interests at heart.

Start with the new offer from Revolution Capital Group, as described today by Herald reporter Brian Dowling.

Second potential buyer makes offer for Boston Herald

A Los Angeles investment group is pledging a $5.75 million bid for the Boston Herald, the second public bid for the tabloid since it filed for bankruptcy in December.

Revolution Capital Group filed its bid yesterday with the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. The company previously offered to buy the Herald in 2013.

Components of Revolution’s bid add up to more than the $5 million offer that newspaper giant GateHouse Media made last month.

 

But it’s not just more – it’s who gets more. “Revolution is offering $3 million cash for the company, agreeing to honor $750,000 of paid time off for employees who join the company, and is pledging to pay out $2 million in severance.”

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, Jon Chesto reminds us what the deal is with GateHouse.

GateHouse proposed paying $4.5 million in cash, as well as at least $500,000 in assumed liabilities, including paid time off owed to employees.

 

Unless our math skills fail us, that means Herald owner Pat Purcell gets $1.5 million less from a sale to Revolution, while employees at the shaky local tabloid get $2.25 million more.

Maybe that’s why “[the] new bid drew immediate praise from the Communications Workers of America, which represents more than 100 unionized workers at the Herald,” according to Chesto.

But Poynter Institute media business analyst Rick Edmonds points to Revolution’s acquisition of the Tampa Tribune in 2012, which it then sold to Poynter, owner of the Tampa Tribune, four years later. Edmonds told Chesto he thinks Revolution would likewise flip the Herald in a few years.

Long-term, Edmonds said, “[GateHouse does] make cuts themselves, and they have profit targets that they’re trying to hit. [But] they have a body of resources and competence that I don’t think Revolution Capital has.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the bankruptcy judge sorts that out.