When I made the decision to switch Pirates Prospects to a subscription site, it was with a primary goal in mind: expanding and securing a long-term future for the site. The old ad model, which kept the site free for six years, just wasn’t working. The last few years saw the ad revenues becoming more unreliable, and the ad rates dropping. This was something I had no control over, and the result was that the site was expanding in traffic, but staying the same or declining from a revenue stance.
As you can imagine, this made it difficult to expand and add more coverage of the minor league system. Last year I cut back on MLB coverage, because I didn’t know how the ad model would work. We had live minor league coverage, but not as much as I wanted to have, in part due to limited resources. I wanted to have people covering every minor league city. I wanted a writer providing features at the MLB level.
Last night’s Prospect Watch featured three games. We had live coverage from all three of those games, with live reports of each game in the article. We had the live coverage last year in the Prospect Watch, but the frequency has been much higher this year. I don’t think there was a time last year when we had coverage from every game on a given night. And it was rare that we had multiple live reports on a given night. Since the change to a subscription site, that has been a regular feature, along with our weekly Prospect Reports from all over the system (our first one from two weeks ago was free, and can be viewed here).
Tomorrow morning, I will be flying up to West Virginia, where I will be covering the West Virginia Power for a five game stretch. Obviously by living in Bradenton, I can provide live coverage of the Marauders and extended Spring Training, which we’ve had plenty of so far this year. But the trip to West Virginia will be the second road trip for me this year, after going to see Pittsburgh and Altoona two weeks ago.
Having regular live coverage from every affiliate. Being able to travel to each affiliate for additional coverage. This is exactly why we made the switch to a subscription site. Again, this is something that wasn’t possible in previous years. I was locked in to Bradenton, with no resources to travel and see other teams. The only hope in the past was that we might have a writer covering a few games at the other levels. This year we have writers covering every team, plus I’m able to go provide additional coverage of each team.
So far, the only team I haven’t covered has been Indianapolis. I’ve delayed that for two reasons. One is that Ryan Palencer already provides strong coverage from Indianapolis. The other is that Indianapolis has the least amount of actual prospects. My current plans are to travel to Indianapolis next month. I’m also hoping to travel down to the Dominican Republic to get some live reports from the Dominican Academy.
My first goal when expanding the site was to increase the amount of minor league coverage. I hesitate to say that we’ve achieved a goal like this, because I’m always looking to provide more coverage, no matter how much we’re currently providing. However, with writers covering every team, and with resources allowing for travel to cover every team, I’d say we’ve reached that goal, with the disclaimer that I’m still looking to increase coverage, as this is our main priority.
That’s what your subscription has bought so far. We always had the most coverage of the minor league system, but this year we’ve had more coverage than before. Last week we passed our first month goal of 2,000 subscriptions. We’ve already topped last year’s revenue, which led me to re-design the site last week and remove all of the rotating ad networks at the end of the month. The result is a much cleaner design with no invasive advertisements, allowing you to enjoy the site content even more.
For those who haven’t subscribed yet, you can get all of our great coverage for just $2.99 per month, or a lower monthly average if you go with our Annual or Top Prospect (3 year) plans. We also have a promotion with DraftKings where you can get a free one-year subscription just by signing up for a new DraftKings account and making a $5 minimum first deposit. All of the subscription options can be found on our subscription page.
West Virginia Coverage
As I mentioned, I’ll be flying up to West Virginia tomorrow morning to cover the Power for five games. This will be the first of at least two trips to West Virginia this year. The other trip will come later in the year, and will include a stop in Morgantown. We currently don’t have a writer in Charleston, but we have plenty of coverage this year between road game coverage and my trips to Charleston. Still, I’d like to have a writer in Charleston. Any interested applicants should send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stats and an App
I’m looking into the possibility of adding stats to the site. This has been a goal of mine in the past, but again, was something that was financially impossible under the old model. It’s still early in the process, but I’ve got some exciting ideas for the site that should be possible to implement. We’re also going to be adding an app, although I’m holding off to see if the stats can be incorporated in the app when it is created. For now, we’ve also updated the mobile theme with the new look on the desktop part of the site.