Folded seats at a sports stadium

The Athletic and StubHub Form Strategic Partnership

This diversification of revenue streams could help The Athletic reach profitability while growing StubHub’s customer base.

Popular digital sports media The Athletic has announced a new strategic partnership with online ticket marketplace StubHub. The goal of the strategic alliance could potentially propel The Athletic toward profitability by introducing innovative revenue streams and enhancing the overall user experience. StubHub will be integrated into The Athletic’s product, content and subscriber offerings, creating a seamless way to buy tickets to live sporting events, the companies said.

“Millions of sports fans around the world trust The Athletic for the latest, and most accurate, sports news and content, just as StubHub is trusted to give fans access to the sporting events they love,” said Cris Miller, Chief Business Officer at StubHub, in a May 11 news release. “By partnering with The Athletic, we can reach an engaged and motivated audience of sports fans and help connect them to the experiences they’re interested in.”

Purchased by The New York Times in 2022 for $550 million in cash, The Athletic had revenue of $28.6 million and nearly 3.3 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2023. While the digital sports outlet has an excellent journalistic reputation and has doubled subscribers in the last year, The Athletic still suffered a $7.8 million loss during the quarter. The sports news outlet is looking for ways to remain afloat.

The New York Times Co. to buy The Athletic for $550M in an all cash-deal
Source: The Athletic

By joining forces with StubHub, The Athletic is poised to transform its revenue model. The strategic partnership supports the integration of StubHub’s ticketing services directly within The Athletic’s platform, starting this year, creating a seamless experience for users looking for comprehensive sports coverage and the opportunity to purchase tickets in one place. The deal with also create exclusive StubHub offers and perks for Times and The Athletic subscribers later this year as well.

With the integration, readers will have access to real-time game schedules, ticket availability, and tailored recommendations based on their sports preferences. The Athletic’s editorial content will be strategically linked to StubHub’s ticketing options, enabling fans to effortlessly transition from reading about their favorite teams to attending live events.

“Our collaboration with StubHub marks an exciting milestone for The Athletic and continues to fulfill our promise to subscribers to bring them increased value in their overall reader experience,” says Sebastian Tomich, chief commercial and development officer, The Athletic. “We see many synergistic opportunities for our brands to work together around live sporting events and know this type of collaboration is of strong interest to our audience who passionately attend and tune into these must-watch games.”

Copyright © 2023 Authority Media Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

The revenue potential lies in StubHub’s extensive reach and established presence in the ticketing industry. The platform has a network of partnerships with major sports teams, venues and event organizers worldwide. By tapping into this network, The Athletic gains access to a highly engaged, passionate fan base, while StubHub benefits from the exposure to The Athletic’s loyal readership.

This strategic partnership could be mutually beneficial because it allows The Athletic to leverage StubHub’s ticket sales to generate additional revenue through affiliate marketing. When a reader purchases a ticket through The Athletic’s integrated StubHub platform, the media outlet gets a commission. This monetization strategy provides another revenue stream for The Athletic. Also, The Athletic’s collaboration with StubHub presents opportunities for innovative content creation. The platform could introduce interactive features such as live Q&A sessions with athletes and coaches, exclusive behind-the-scenes access to games and events, and interactive polls to engage readers.

The partnership also aligns with a broader trend in the sports industry where media outlets are increasingly exploring alternative revenue streams to support quality journalism. As traditional advertising revenues decline, collaborations like The Athletic’s with StubHub demonstrate the industry’s adaptability and commitment to finding sustainable business models.

Founded in 2016, The Athletic covered more than 200 sports clubs and teams globally with a team of 450 writers, editors and producers. StubHub is the world’s largest online marketplace for buying ans elling tickets to live events. It is available to customers in more than 150 countries in 40 languages and 49 currenciences.

Insider Take

But it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. The new strategic partnership blurs the lines between editorial independence and revenue. While the integration between The Athletic and StubHub creates new content and financial possibilities, will The Athletic be able to retain its editorial independence, or will it relax its journalistic standards in the name of the almighty dollar? The Athletic has built its reputation on high-quality journalism, earning it a loyal subscriber base that has grown significantly under the umbrella of The New York Times Company. While the partnership holds promise, there are potential risks.

On the flip side, The New York Times has set a precedent that may allay some fears. When they purchased review site Wirecutter for $30 million in 2016, the legacy media organization made it very clear that The Times and Wirecutter would retain editorial independence from each other. To the best of our knowledge, they have done so while being transparent. At the same time, the affiliate revenue generated by the Wirecutter supports all the work done by The Times. Revenue raised from this new partnership has the potential to do the same if done right. If The Athletic remains true to its stated editorial guidelines, it could stay on the right side of conflict of interest concerns.

Copyright © 2023 Authority Media Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

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