There are a billion different ways to define bad news but, in the broadly harmless sense, bad news can be good for business.
This past week, one in which the Steelers self-destructed and the Pirates self-immolated, our total page views were 1,083,787, the highest seven-day span since the Penguins won the Stanley Cup last June. And everything else was up, too, from subscriptions to social media to video views to podcasts.
Funny how that works.
The cynic would say that bad news sells, but I don’t think it’s that simple. I’ve stated for years that our No. 1 most consistent seller of subscriptions here is hope. When fans have hope, they’re more inclined to invest in following their team. And if they want to follow their team, ideally, we’ll be their option. Hope and subscriptions go hand-in-hand, and they have right from the start.
But there are times when bad news sells for good reasons. Meaning that, when the Steelers get bombed for 45 points by Blake Bortles, readers will value what Dale Lolley or Christopher Carter have to say about it. Meaning that, when the Pirates do what the Pirates do, readers will value that we offer a truly independent voice and won’t hesitate to use it. Meaning that, even on those rare occasions the Penguins do something unpopular such as scratching Daniel Sprong and Ian Cole, we’ll be out on the West Coast digging into why.
It’s not a pattern, and it’s definitely not a goal. If you go seeking bad news for the sake of bad news, you’ll be chasing ambulances into oblivion. Besides, it’s not how we’re wired. I’d like to think we’ve got a staff that embraces the positive parts of our job, including when the teams or athletes we cover do well, in the professional context. There are good stories to tell, and we enjoy telling them. We talk about this a lot.
Most important, we want that enthusiasm to come across to our readership because passionate storytelling is part of the job.
That said, when things go sour — and the past week was biting into one big bitter lemon — we want to apply that same level of energy into offering the kind of coverage you’d expect.
MORE BIG STUFF
Much more on the way in terms of very real possibilities for this business. Wish I could talk about them all right now. I can’t. It’s killing me. Reporters are the worst at keeping secrets. It’s kind of the antithesis of what we do.
LIMIT THE LIFETIMES?
We’re proud and incessantly stunned that we’ve sold 368 Lifetime Lunatic subscriptions. Some of you might recall that we publicly set a goal of 20 such sales. Ever.
Well, we’re discussing cutting those off at a certain number, which some of you also might recall we also mentioned when the program began. If you think about it theoretically, it makes sense: If too many readers invested the max one-time payment, while we’d be hugely appreciative, that would have one heck of a stifling effect on future cash flow, to put it mildly.
So the final target my wife Dali and I have been floating around is an even 500.
Which, obviously, would leave 132 more to sell.
This isn’t final yet, but it’s definitely something we’re taking seriously, in addition to finding some kind of special way — maybe a page with their names or nicknames, or some designation in comments — to recognize our Lifetime class and keep it feeling a little exclusive.
THANKS FOR COMING!
One other thing we’ve appreciated about the Lifetimes, by the way, is that we hear so often from those who still continue to support the site, whether through gift subscriptions or other means. We had one of them join us last night at the Miller Lite Live Qs up in Ross Township and, after the two-hour fest was done, he helped us carry all our equipment back out to the car.
Now that’s dedication!
Thanks to everyone who came out, as well as to the Miller Lite assistants and the staff of Wahlburgers for all their help. On behalf of Christopher Carter, Lance Lysowski, Chris Bradford, Taylor Haase, Chris Benson and my wife, it’s all appreciated.
PROGRESS ON ANDROID
Our test process is complete with the Android app, and we’ll have the primary complaint — the slow initial load — solved in short order. There are still a handful of Android devices that can’t generate a keyboard when one goes to comment, which is spectacularly annoying but also super-hard to solve considering we don’t own the commenting platform.
Generally speaking, I’d love to find a commenting platform that does a lot more than what ours currently can do.
Oh, and also on the tech end, we’ve had talks with Build In Motion about trying one of those one-touch logins. You know, where you just place your thumb on the phone and you’re instantly in? That would be tremendous.
HAIL TO FACEBOOK
In this space the past couple weeks, I’ve written about our goal of reaching potential new readers through our Facebook page and, keeping in mind what I wrote above, take a look at the past seven days:
That pace can’t be sustained, obviously. But it all builds.
You actually can have the biggest impact here. If you see a post that suits you, give it a like or share or comment. By doing that even once, within Facebook’s algorithms, you immediately multiply the number of people who can see it. That sounds crazy, but that’s how it works.
Here’s how to follow us on social media:
IT’S MY TURN
My brother Zoran, who’s spent his adult life in Manhattan working in TV and film production, is crafting professional video bios for our staff members. We’ve already introduced the first four of our 30-second videos for Christopher Carter, Matt Gajtka, Matt Sunday and Audrey Snyder, and now it’s my turn:
And here are the other four to date:
That’ll be it for a while, as that was the entirety of our first phase. My brother had limited time with his film crew, but he’ll be back.
DOWNLOAD THE APP
If you haven’t yet downloaded our app, we have an Apple and Android version, both free:
BACK TO BUSINESS
• Subscriptions are at 38,997. That’s an increase of 83 for the week, our best seven-day stretch since September.
• We’re at 368 in the Lifetime Lunatic category, with none sold this week. If you’re interested in upgrading to any level at any time for any reason, click or tap My Account in the menu, then click or tap Upgrade Subscription.
• We’re at 38,797 total active apps in devices. Of that, 28,663 are Apple, 10,160 are Android.
• We’re going to update our multimedia figures at the end of each month, beginning with this one. That’s because we’ve begun really fanning out with both our video and audio, and it’s time-consuming to tabulate. Chris Benson will do one big counting session this way.
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