Pirates Prospects is Now a Subscription Site

About two weeks ago, I announced that Pirates Prospects would be switching over to a subscription site (you can subscribe to one of our low price plans here). Over the last 6+ years, we have provided the best coverage of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league system, while also giving a unique look at the Major League level. The free model, supported by advertisements, was no longer working.

The ad model has been unreliable, not just on a yearly basis, but on a month-to-month basis. It’s impossible to know how much you are going to earn, even after a month has completed. This, in turn, makes it impossible to budget ahead, and has severely limited our live coverage in the past. We’ve been able to provide live coverage, but the frequency has been lower each year due to the declining ad revenues, despite rising traffic.

Going forward, I anticipated that the ad revenues would continue to drop and become even more unreliable. Meanwhile, the site’s live coverage would continue to decrease, and the site would eventually go under. I didn’t want that to happen, and I didn’t want to risk waiting for that point to make a change.

The site is switching to a subscription model to add guaranteed revenue, which will allow us to continue providing live coverage, and continue covering the Pirates’ farm system better than any other outlet. This will allow live coverage in every minor league city in the system, along with a look at the Pirates which you can’t get anywhere else, and the ability to provide highly requested site features that were impossible to do under the ad model.

Thanks to the switch, we are currently on the verge of having live coverage in every minor league city for almost every home game. Ryan Palencer will be returning this year to cover the Indianapolis Indians. We have added a new writer, Sean McCool, to cover the Altoona Curve. I will be covering the Bradenton Marauders. We are also close to adding coverage for the West Virginia Power.

Each writer will be contributing 2-3 features per week from their level, along with live game notes that will go in the nightly Prospect Watch. For each game a writer covers, he will submit at least three player notes, which will go on our player pages (which will soon receive an upgrade). The top notes each week will be featured in a Friday article. The purpose of the notes is to document how each player is performing through time, on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.

I will also be traveling to each full-season team at least twice per year. Tomorrow I’m flying up to Pittsburgh, where I will be covering the first three home games for the Pirates. After that, I will be heading to Altoona for their first four home games. I will also be going to West Virginia for live coverage from May 7th-11th, and will be going to Indianapolis in June.

Here are some of the things that will be coming up as we implement the subscription model.

A Cleaner Site and No Ad Networks

We’ve been keeping the ad networks up as a cushion during this transition process. In the coming weeks, we will be cutting down on the ads and removing them completely. This will lead to a much cleaner site design. We will also be making some changes to the design to be more user-friendly.

We’re not going to rule out the possibility of advertisements in the future, but they’re going to be custom campaigns, rather than the current rotation of ads that can sometimes look sloppy and unprofessional. Eventually we will transition to having specific sponsors on the site. That’s something we are working towards right now.

An App and the Podcast

One of the downsides to the ad model was that I couldn’t have an app. That would have killed the business, since it would have taken readers away from the site and from the ads, generating no revenue. We will have an app in the future. I’m currently researching options and prices, but hope to have one by summer, if not earlier.

Another thing we had to cut was the podcast, because it didn’t bring in any revenue. But since you are paying for the site, rather than the site relying on page views to make money, we can focus on things like a podcast, without having to worry about how it’s not going to bring in enough ad revenue to justify the work. The podcast will most likely return, although that’s another thing that won’t be immediate.

MLB Coverage

Our primary focus is minor league coverage, but that ties in with Major League coverage in many ways. We will be increasing our MLB coverage of the organization, but our focus isn’t going to be providing the exact same content that you can currently find in a dozen other places. I believe we can provide coverage of the MLB level in a way that other outlets can’t, because we are not restricted by having to do things that every other outlet needs to do (such as the same game recap that you’ll read everywhere else, even though modern technology gives you hundreds of ways to know what happened instantly, making a recap pointless). Our focus at the MLB level has been providing analysis, and that won’t change when we eventually increase that coverage.

More Travel

I mentioned that I’ll be traveling to each full-season affiliate at least two times this year. I’ll also be traveling to the short-season affiliates once during their season (I’ll be covering most of those players for the first two months in extended Spring Training). On top of that, I’m hoping to travel down to the Dominican Republic this summer to have coverage from the Dominican Academy, preferably when the DSL season is underway.

During the off-season, we will be able to cover all of the key events, even if they take place at the same time. That means Fall Instructional Leagues, even if the Pirates are in the playoffs at the same time (this was impossible in previous years). That means the Arizona Fall League, Winter Meetings, mini camp, and in the long-term it means having multiple people covering Spring Training, so that we have full-time coverage from both MLB camp and minor league camp.

Subscribe Today

To continue receiving our coverage, subscribe to the site today. Our Monthly plan is $2.99 per month. The Annual plan is $29.99, which is $2.50 per month. You can save even more if you go with our Top Prospect Plan, getting three years for $79.99. Or you can participate in our promotion with DraftKings by signing up for a new account with them, depositing at least $5, and getting a free one-year membership at Pirates Prospects. You can find details and sign up for all three plans (along with the DraftKings promotion) on our subscription page.

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