Rogers Sportsnet Rag, Will You Buy It?

I have to admit, I don’t miss the physical newspapers that used to greet me every morning when I opened my front door. With the exception of one magazine that I have 2 years left on a subscription, I no longer get any physical magazine either.

I was a subscriber of the Hockey News for years too. I gave it up because it was too expensive and at the time, it was outdated. The internet was coming fast and furious and the weekly updates that I had loved in the paper were outdated by the time I read them.

The point is, this is an odd time to be releasing a magazine. Notwithstanding the technology part of the issue, is there a market for a sport publication in Canada at all?

Personally, I can say with full confidence that the odd of me paying for the publication are zero. I really don’t believe in paying for content these days. If it is consumable for free, then I will try it out. I am not however predicting success for the magazine.

I wanted to provide you with some quotes from Dowbiggin’s column in the globe, which I thought was really well written, however it’s not searchable on their awesome website.

Here’s my two cents on the magazine. I don’t get it. In my opinion we don’t have a winning sports portal in Canada. The closest thing to it is Yahoo! TSN and sportsnet’s website suck. Sorry folks. Your websites blow. I don’t turn to them for, well, anything. They aren’t user friendly, they aren’t innovative, they just aren’t any good. I am not just saying this because I am one, but the bloggers blow the big boys out of the water with their websites. The best thing going in digital in this town is the Score’s mobile app. After that….

So, Rogers has amassed an impressive (to some) lineup of writers and talking heads. Why not put that to better use, say f’ it to print and create the best damn sports portal in Canada? The sportsnet website is BRUTAL. As I look at right now, there isn’t one thing that catches my eye that makes me want to click on anything. Ditto for TSN. The site is boring, and lacks any creativity or innovation.

The yahoo site isn’t exaclty filled with ingenuity either, but at least it’s crisp and clean.

The Cbc sports website is vanilla as the day is long, and it looks like it was done on wordpress.

So, again, if it were me and my money, I would shut down the printing press, hire the most innovative and creative people I could and create the uber sports portal.

But hey, that’s me.


I like reading all the Toronto dailies online. They each bring unique perspectives in the various fields called “news”. Obviously there are good and not so much in each paper. For every Christie Blatchford there’s a Rosie. I have to wonder out loud though how the Toronto Sun, which many feel is the best for sports in town, puts an article (any article) written by Bill Lankhoff on it’s homepage. I don’t know Bill personally, but wow, really, is that the best the Sun can do?

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Steve (in Hamilton)
Steve (in Hamilton)
August 9, 2011 11:49 pm

It will depend on the content. For a magazine to succeed the articles will have to be longer and more in-depth than the stuff we get in newspapers and on blogs. It will have to be top-quality long-form journalism for me to buy it.

Yes, a lot people don’t like paying for content anymore, and a negative consequence of that is that the field of journalism is partially dying. (My daughter was taking journalism, but I advised her to change programmes, since there are no jobs.)

And, yes, a lot of blogs are good – including this one – but they just don’t compare to good long-form journalism.

I will give the new magazine a try, but I fear they will make the stories really short and shallow, assuming that people don’t have the attention spans for good lengthy stories. Hopefully, that won’t be the case – in my opinion.

August 10, 2011 12:26 am

no thanks want nothing to do with Rogers, Sportsnet sucks and so will this magazine. it will be gone within a year

Chris F.
Chris F.
August 10, 2011 1:40 am

Not really interested, really the only magazine i’ve ever had a subscription to was Macleans and now most of that content is online so I don’t subscribe anymore.

The magazine business is dead and buried with only a few stalwarts staying alive thanks to a good web component. This Rogers Sportsnet mag will probably be off the shelves by this time next year.

Steve (in Hamilton)
Steve (in Hamilton)
August 10, 2011 7:13 am

From an Onion Story earlier in the year, regarding paying for news:

NEW YORK—In a move that media executives, economic forecasters, and business analysts alike are calling “extremely bold,” put into place a groundbreaking new business model today in which the news website will charge people money to consume the goods and services it provides. “The whole idea of an American business trying to make a profit off of a product its hired professionals create on a daily basis is a truly brave and intrepid strategy,” said media analyst Steve Messner, adding that’s extremely risky new approach to commerce—wherein legal tender must be exchanged in order to receive a desired service—could drastically reduce the publication’s readership. “To ask’s 33 million unique monthly visitors to switch to a cash-for-manufactured-goods-based model from the standard everything-online-should-be-free-for-reasons-nobody-can-really-explain-based model is pretty fearless. It’s almost as if The New York Times is equating itself with a business trying to function in a capitalistic society.” In a statement released last Thursday, the newspaper’s publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. said, “If this fails, I’d honestly rather The New York Times not exist in a world where people are unwilling to pay the price of a fucking movie ticket for a monthly online subscription.”

Bob Canuck
Bob Canuck
August 10, 2011 8:19 am

Steve (In Hamilton)’s welcomed inclusion of the Onion piece reminded me of an excerpt from Monty Python’s Piranha Brothers sketch.

“When the Piranhas (Doug and Dinsdale) left school they were called up but were found by an Army Board to be too unstable even for National Service. Denied the opportunity to use their talents in the service of their country, they began to operate what they called ‘The Operation’. They would select a victim and then threaten to beat him up if he paid the so-called protection money. Four months later they started another operation which they called ‘The Other Operation’. In this racket they selected another victim and threatened not to beat him up if he didn’t pay them. One month later they hit upon ‘The Other Other Operation’. In this the victim was threatened that if he didn’t pay them, they would beat him up. This for the Piranha brothers was the turning point”.

Old media is struggling to find its own version of The Other Other Operation, that is to say, a successful business model going forward.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
August 10, 2011 8:59 am

Steve (in Hamilton): And, yes, a lot of blogs are good – including this one – but they just don’t compare to good long-form journalism.

i agree in part, but i also think that long form journalism aims to achieve something very different than a blog.

for example, reading long form journalism requires time and a certain amount of quiet. i can check 10 blogs in 10 minutes and quickly get a sense of what people are writing and thinking about. in depth pieces take 15 mins to half an hour to read, and require much more of my attention.

i’m just not sure that people who drive to work, sit at their computers all day, and then drive home are then going to curl up with a sports magazine. the sports news cycle is so quick that most print stories will seem like old news.

August 10, 2011 9:16 am

Amen to the Onion. The websites suck because cheap, self-entitled whiners don’t think they should have to pay for someone else’s work.
As for criticizing Lankhof — please, you get what you pay for. Besides he was right the other day about the CFL and the botched Labour Day Classic.

August 10, 2011 11:02 am

Easy there Willy Shakespeare. I guess millions and millions (yes millions) of people per month going to TSN and Sportsnet websites are ALL idiots. And you are the right one, the chosen one. HAHAHA. Keep writing your crappy little blog. I find it amusing and comical. You want vanilla, look in a mirror. Vanilla is exciting compared to your crap. By the way, instead of hiding under TSM say your name and give your email.

August 10, 2011 12:18 pm

After seeing the in the post that Dowbiggin’s article wasn’t searchable on the Globe website, I went and searched for “dowbiggin” and the second result was the article in question. Maybe TSM mistyped his search? I’m all for slagging the Globe, but only when it applies, otherwise, one could get tarred by the same brush – should we now conclude that TSM is as inaccurate as Dowbiggin?

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
August 10, 2011 1:38 pm

No interest in a Sportsnet Magazine. Until they first show me a website that has crediblity and usability perhaps I would then trust a magazine.

When I do in desperate times open the Sportsnet Webpage, I am amazed at how confusing it looks and the appearance that Spector, Brophy are leading writers makes me immediately skip onto another sports webpage. TSN has its shortcomings, but for bare sports and using it to watch their streamed coverage it is fine. I would not at all lump TSN and SPortsnet into the same dung quality. CLearly one can still be burned to heat a home while the other just plain stinks.

If we are going to start giving Dowbiggin props for one good article, wow! Guy is a journalistic nightmare who weekly jumps on different sides of fence. Now today he is standing up for those who stood up to TIger but has most of his facts wrong. I especially like him today endorsing Ames as a golfer whom was never a fan of Tiger. Ames has always been a straight shooter. However, Dowbiggin sold him down the river years ago when he published a complete off the cuff conversation he had with Ames regarding Tiger. Bruce Dowbiggin is never held accountable for his blogs but loves to slag at all others! Still can’t believe the Globe keeps this guy employed in the least.

August 10, 2011 1:51 pm

For all those predicting it will be gone in a year, this is not some new company starting from scratch. They have the people to write the content in place, they have printing and distribution (and probably as cheap as possible) in place, they have all the cross promoting in place, they have the ad sales people in place, the have the subscription sales people/process in place, etc.

Besides, they could be looking at this as simply an other marketing avenue, so even if they lose some money, it could help in promoting everything else they own so it could make financial sense for them.

Even if people don’t subscribe, they could distribute this as a free magazine to Jays season ticket holders, at the Dome, through their stores, etc. and they could probably sell enough ads (package them in with everything else) and combined with the added marketing value for Rogers products, make it work financially.

August 11, 2011 12:58 pm

I agree with Lucc – to make a critique of a website is fine – but coming from here, it is certainly the pot calling the kettle black.

While I do enjoy some of the writing here, it is a cheese-ball site from every other perspective.

Lloyd Davis
Lloyd Davis
August 12, 2011 4:03 pm

“I have to wonder out loud though how the Toronto Sun, which many feel is the best for sports in town, puts an article (any article) written by Bill Lankhoff on it’s homepage. I don’t know Bill personally, but wow, really, is that the best the Sun can do?”

That’s a bit like Bill Elliott complaining about the hot dogs in the Blue Jays’ press box, isn’t it?

I don’t see the point of a Canadian sports magazine, either, and especially expect this one to suck because of the company involved. Everything else they put out (Maclean’s, their business magazines and — according to the wife and various freelance writing acquaintances, of course — Chatelaine) is dreck. But that shit makes money, and apparently the boys at Jarvis and Bloor think there’s advertising to support this thing. And let’s face it, they’re not starting a mag to fill a journalistic void, but rather to try to “capture” some ad revenue from another demo.

Steve in Hamilton worries that the material will be short and shallow, and I’d have to say that’s what I expect, too. I imagine they’ll be relying totally on the Rogers corporate-communications department and a few of the talking heads from Sportsnets radio and TV to churn out the stories, and you won’t find really good storytelling there. I anticipate factoids and opinion pieces. Fluffy “interviews” with sports personalities. (“Favourite big-league city? Favourite food? Betty or Wilma?”) Look for cover teasers like “7 Reasons Why Burke Must Quit — Now!” or “13 Stadiums to See Before You Die.” Magazines love to put lists on the cover.

Sort of the print version of the “programming” they put up on the screen at Cineplex before the commercials start.

But publishers don’t seek out and pay for quality content for exactly the reason TSM self-identifies: consumers don’t want to seek out and pay for quality content anymore.

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
August 13, 2011 8:53 am

Not sure if it was hear I read it first, but Gare Joyce is leaving ESPN to write for the new Sportsnet magazine.

August 14, 2011 9:36 am

ZERO chance I would pay to read Mike Brophy or John Shannon’s opinion. To have a magazine you need something you can’t get from the Internet…. Hardcore reporting.

Nobody is going to pay for opinions.

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