There are times, I'll admit, it feels a little uncomfortable to have three, even four people covering a given big-league game. We'll have a plan, but we also have to wait, obviously, to see how it plays out. And there will, of course, be times where it's tough to find enough for everyone.
But the payoffs very much outweigh that.
For one, there will be nights like Tuesday and Thursday at PPG Paints Arena, where there were multiple levels of news/analysis needed on the Penguins' victories, including injury updates. So all of us -- Chris Bradford, Matt Sunday, Taylor Haase and I -- had plenty on our respective plates. As a result, our readers woke up to what we're confident was the most comprehensive coverage we could possibly produce.
And speaking for myself, that just feels good. It's a really, really good way to call it a night.
For another, our readers devour it. Sure, some articles will have more page views than others from the same game, but the disparity is rarely that high. That tells us, basically, that readers can't get enough. We can go two, three, four, even five files deep, and there will still be intensive readership and interaction.
That's rewarding in its own way, not least of which is -- hopefully -- satisfying the expectations of subscribers.
So get used to this. It's working. We've done this with Steelers games for years, and it's working with Penguins games, and we'll do our best within the scope of all 162 of the Pirates' games. But this concept also applies to news, practices and other availabilities. With Hunter Homistek on board and with Taylor Haase doing more hockey than ever, we've got more people contributing than ever to covering the three teams that matter most to you.
The Steelers, Penguins and Pirates account for almost all of our traffic here. Fourth on the list is Pitt, and that content accounted for 1.9 percent of our traffic over the past calendar year. Even this past week, with the Panthers in the ACC football championship and the basketball team in the City Game against Duquesne, the Pirates -- with virtually nothing going on -- had more traffic.
That's our city. It's a pro town. Always has been. Always will be.
The customer's never wrong, as they say.
UPDATED TV AD
My wife Dali and I had a bunch of business meetings in the past week, including with our partner professional teams, the Penguins and the Riverhounds. These are fun in a different kind of way because they'll offer a chance to understand more about what the teams do to connect not only to their fans but also to companies small and large. It makes for fascinating conversation.
For those who don't know, I'll offer the eternal disclaimer: Business partnerships with teams we cover always come with church-and-state separation. No one gets any editorial favors in either direction. (Believe me, there are times I at least playfully wish we did!)
On that note, here's the newest version of our TV ad, airing before all Penguins games on AT&T SportsNet:
We also met with a couple of our major sponsors and, at some point after I get back from California next week, we'll be making our annual ho-ho-ho tour of all of them to personally give gifts to those who've supported us.
(And yes, Erich Cushey, this is the year the big sleigh makes it down to Curtis Pharmacy in Canonsburg!)
GIFT SUBSCRIPTION TOTAL: 48
December needs to be by far our biggest month, and we're fortunate that it's annually been exactly that, thanks to gift subscriptions. This year, the goal is bigger than ever -- 600 -- and though that would beat our record of 581, we think it's doable because it's also the first time we're offering something special with the purchase:
What's above, of course, is 'Cartoon Canon: An Illustrated History of Pittsburgh Sports,' a beautiful coffee-table-style assembly of staff artist Rob Ullman's finest pieces — to anyone buying a gift subscription at zero additional charge. The shipping is free, too.
Oh, and there is not much time: To guarantee getting the book for Christmas, an order has to be submitted by Dec. 13. It's the only way we can be absolutely certain to get it to you by the holiday.
That's six days away!
• I'm through mincing words on this: We will have the new login/alert system in place by Christmas. It's no longer optional. It'll be done.
• A couple changes were made in the menu atop the desktop/laptop version of the site, aimed at faster navigation. All of the regular features, for example, are now available by simply scrolling over 'Our Stuff.' No second level is needed. Also, you'll now find popular items like 'All Content' -- more than 1,000 readers use this each day! -- right under the 'Home' button. Poke around up there.
• The speed of the app has taken a leap for the better in the past week, particularly on the home page. That's partly because of a new gradual-load system on the images out there, but more because we've lightened the amount of content, including the size of images. This makes me happier than I can possibly describe.
• Can't stress this enough, but use the app. It's where we put almost all of our tech resources, it's got the best version of our Live Feed, and it's free:
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• Subscriptions are at 37,392. That's minus-7 over the past week.
• We had 563,256 page views over the past week. Our most-hit article -- exempting live files -- was DK's column on Derick Brassard at 21,637. The Penguins accounted for 143,031 of our page views, the Steelers 95,556, the Pirates 24,408, Pitt 20,779, and all the rest were below 3,000.
• We're at 29,247 (+23) page likes on Facebook, we're at 29,135 (+39) followers on Twitter, and we're at 9,095 (+11) followers on Instagram. These figures are just for our official company account on each platform, not for us as individuals.
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