Boston.com editor blames Celtics

Boston.com editor Dave Beard says that his site’s readership numbers are down over the previous May and June in large part because of the Boston Celtics’ early flameout. Since the Kevin Garnett-less Celts were eliminated on May 17, that explanation definitely makes some sense. Beard writes:

Two words: Boston Celtics.

No rolling rally. No euphoria. No heart-stopping NBA finals, sadly, with photo-friendly celebs packing the Garden. No May-to-June buildup for such a record season.

That said, despite a 40 percent dropoff from Sports in June pageviews, we made up most of it with News and Arts and Entertainment. By internal measurement, we came very close to our record June number for pageviews and for unique users, and we showed 11 percent more visits that the preceding June.

And, not to be a salesman on you, but July is looking very strong.

In short: We don’t read too much into a month or two of the widely variable and smallish samplings of Nielsen, as you mentioned in your lede. But we’re not relaxing one bit.

20 thoughts on “Boston.com editor blames Celtics

  1. Rick in Duxbury

    I guess this is why they have "audited" circulation, eh? Yeah, I can see why sports would be down 40%. Who would be interested in a first-place Red Sox team? Talk about whistling past the graveyard.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: The Red Sox were in first place or close to it last year at this time, too. Beard told me he's seen very specific numbers showing Celtics-related page views last year and this year. It makes a lot of sense to me.

  3. Michael Pahre

    If the readers mostly seem to want sports coverage online, then give it to 'em.I say drop all that other extraneous garbage like breaking news, politics, op-ed/editorials, entertainment, and human interest stories — yuck! — and turn the Globe into 100% sports only 100% of the time.How many people do you know who pick up the sports section first, and only occasionally get around to the rest of the paper? Give 'em sports, sports, and more sports. That's what they want. Newspapers should give readers what they want, not all that other filler stuff.

  4. Bob F

    So the 2nd lowest count in the past 28 months, and it's the Celtics? 4,500,000 less than their high point, 50% drop from their high point, and it's the Celtics? I guess their advertisers should pay 50% less and the business is worth half when the Celtics dont win it all? Do we REALLY believe that?

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Bob: Folks in the business are well aware of how closely print circulation of the Globe and the Herald has been tied to the fortunes of the local sports teams for many, many years.If you look at the chart, I think the real anomaly was the 8.5 million figure from January. If I had to guess, I'd say it was the Big Picture feature on the Inauguration, which got national and world play.

  6. mike_b1

    Michael, giving the readers what they want, or more precisely, readers being able to get what they want, is exactly what Michael Crichton predicted 14 years ago when he foresaw the impending doom of mass media. Today, if we want a deep reporting and understanding of say, basketball, we can get it, with more regularity and much greater expertise than the newspaper can provide.To that end, Newsweek may actually be on to something with its recast editorial bent, where instead of making things "more provocative! more controversial! more in your face!," they seem to be choosing to get as in-depth as possible about a small range of subjects, instead of being generally poor at covering lots (all) of them.Not to beat a dead brontosaurus, but the Globe would be better off spinning out into a handful of bureaus grouped not by geography but by interest (say, Boston government; state government; Celtics; Red Sox; Bruins; Patriots; and maybe a couple others, like real estate). Leave everything else to whomever else thinks they can do it and make money on it. Then they should hire some people who actually know something about that which they cover. Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy are the answer to something, but not to the question of how to ensure the success of the Globe. The age of the generalist in media is over, and for good, I hope.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    mike_b1: I think this is the first time I've ever seen the names Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy in the same sentence, except by way of contrast.

  8. DevorahLeah

    I've never quite figured out the philosophy of Boston.com with regard to news. I'm not sure the Globe regards it as a priority, even though lots of people do read it. The site seems to rely on a small staff, and uses lots of AP copy after a certain point in the evening. I don't see many stories that are exclusive to Boston.com — some are previews of stories that will run in tomorrow's Globe, for example. And when news breaks at night, more often than not, the site waits for the wire service to cover it. Washington Post and NY Times have reporters who give thorough coverage to stories, and sometimes seem to have stories that are geared mainly to the website. I don't get that sense about Boston.com …(That said, yes, I do love the Globe sportswriters and sports blogs.)So, riddle me this: is Boston.com basically a kinder, gentler version of an aggregator, relying on Globe news stories and AP copy? Sure seems that way to me.

  9. mike_b1

    Dan, I don't doubt that. But the point is, both are fine at writing down what someone else says, and neither is sufficiently knowledgeable or adept to be useful when the reader has anything more than a passing interest in the subject.

  10. George

    It's sad when the Globe depends on the health Of K.G. for their circulation. What would happen if the big 3(now big 4) all came down with the swine flu during the season?

  11. Mike from Norwell

    Dan,"Folks in the business are well aware of how closely print circulation of the Globe and the Herald has been tied to the fortunes of the local sports teams for many, many years."Given the amount of success that Boston sports teams have had over this decade (especially in contrast to the 90s – remember Callahan's term "Loserville"?), from a long-term standpoint the collapse of circulation figures this decade doesn't tie into your statement. Or are you saying that the Patriots/Red Sox/Celts wins only forestalled the inevitable?

  12. mike_b1

    kerouac: seriously, when free sites like ESPN.com have not only as much or more information about Boston area teams, but also about every other sport imaginable, why would anyone bother with bob ryan, who wouldn't know a pick-and-roll if it hit him in the beer gut?

  13. Rick in Duxbury

    Mike,Ryan knew more when he wrote for "The Heights" than most guys with years of professional experience. That's why the Globe snapped him up when he graduated. (I have been reading him that long. Earning your chops on the early part of Tom Davis's career and the end of Bob Cousy's didn't hurt either.) He has also exhibited more courage in his personal life than most guys you will meet. You know a lot about a lot of subjects. You just demonstrated that Ryan is not one of them.

  14. mike_b1

    Rick, if you say so. I suggest you take a gander at Basketball Prospectus some time. It will open your eyes.While the rest of the world is busy breaking down exactly what happens on the court, Ryan is still trotting out the "remember when's." Going to school with Bob Cousy and understanding what it was that made him a great basketball player are two completely different things. The Boston Globe quote about DK at the top of the page applies to Ryan in spades.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    mike_b1: Except that the Globe quote about me was a joke.Tell you what, Mike. I say Ryan knows enough about sports — certainly basketball and baseball — for 99 percent of the newspaper-reading fans out there.And for the other 1 percent, they're going to have a damn hard time finding someone who's as knowledgeable as you demand, and who can also report, write, and be half as entertaining as Ryan.

  16. mike_b1

    Whether that quote was a joke or not is immaterial. It applies here.Think about it: When was the last time Ryan, Shaughnessy, etc. broke a story? Any story?Moreover, Dan, you miss the point. While you contend that 99% of the readers are satisfied by what the Globe has to offer, an entire world has been constructed that, lo and behold, does NOT include the Globe (or other mass media). Thanks in large part to fantasy sports (baseball, basketball, football, etc.), I can't count the number of sites that have popped up — many of which are pay sites — to support the public's demand for in-depth information (vs. the general, opinion-based tripe that the Globe and their like are pitching). The FTSA estimates 27 million Americans alone play fantasy sports — that's about 10% of the US population. (And I would argue that's a low estimate.) According to Business Week, fantasy sports publications and leagues generate as much as $2 billion a year — a figure that doesn't include the amount being waged on said leagues.Take a look at this take on the free agent NBA guards:http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=714And this one on the performance of the MLB shortstops this year: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9212Could Ryan, or anyone in the Boston media, pull this off? Nope. And almost everyone of these guys do it 4 times or more a week, every week. And not a single snide remark about Nomah!I hate to say it, Dan, when it comes to the Web, you're an old guy, and very likely still clinging to old concepts even while you cast about for change.

  17. Dan Kennedy

    I hate to say it, Dan, when it comes to the Web, you're an old guy, and very likely still clinging to old concepts even while you cast about for change.I think what it comes down to is that I'm a casual sports fan. On politics and media, I'm willing to drill down pretty deep and seek out alternative sources of information. On sports, I just want to be entertained by someone who's knowledgeable. Ryan qualifies.

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