The times are a-changing for online written content. But this one is driven more by money grabs than shifting audience habits.
Yes, plenty of younger folks are consuming online content via video. But plenty of folks from all demographics are still looking to get information about sports via the written word.
Here’s the problem: Online videos currently carry much more lucrative advertising dollars (and, in turn, higher commissions) than online articles. Which means that many of the people who are hired to sell advertisements are focusing more on selling video ads than on selling digital ads. Which means that websites are having a harder time selling digital ads, because they are selling more video ads. Which means that websites are focusing on generating video content that will carry the video ads their advertising employees are selling.
Which means that websites are ditching written content that has far fewer advertising dollars attached to it.
The latest, and most significant, example of this phenomenon comes from FOX, which is dumping its entire online writing and editing crew and replacing them with employees who will be enhancing the video operation. Via Bloomberg, by way of SportsBusiness Daily, FOX Sports National Networks President Jamie Horowitz justified the move by explaining that “[c]reating compelling sports video content is what we do best at FOX Sports,” and that FOX Sports “will be shifting our resources and business model away from written content and instead focus on our fans’ growing appetite for premium video across all platforms.”
It’s entirely possible that this claim is true, and that it’s just not cover for the decision to not give all customers what they want but to let the FOX Sports advertising staff chase the biggest commissions in order to serve only those who want video. But if Horowitz’s contention is accurate, that’s on FOX Sports for not hiring people who can generate written content that will whet the appetite of visitors to FOXSports.com.
Either way, welcome to PFT and NBCSports.com, those current-or-soon-to-be-former FOXSports.com customers who can’t or won’t get their information about sports via video, and who have little interest in the #EmbraceControversy style for the purposes of capturing inauthentic moments that will make waves on social media. Here, as you may have noticed, we’re providing content both in writing and through video — but not through video that features yelling and screaming and preening and posturing; instead, we’re generating video that supplements our written content and presents it in an entertaining and engaging way.
If/when FOX decides that it once again can make money from online written content or that it can’t fully and effectively promote video without tying the content to digital articles or that it cares about all of its audience and not just some of it, we hope you’ll remember that we didn’t bail on the format you prefer simply because the current business cycle entails greater financial rewards for generating video.