Two months ago, I would’ve said we were at the height of uncertainty about the future, both in terms of the sporting world and in terms of broader societal and economic events. For that reason, I wrote about what was going on at BN at the time because that uncertainty necessarily hit us, too.
I think I would have said then that, oh, by mid-July, we’d probably have at least a little more clarity on what the next 12 to 18 months was going to look like. Well, it’s mid-July, and I’m sorry to tell you, Past Brett, but we still don’t know diddly plop.
Nevertheless, I would like to update you all about the state of things here at BN. If we’re going to be uncertain about our future, the least we can do is be uncertain together.
I’m so grateful to have the readers we have around here, and it feels wrong not to share these conversations with you, especially because your behavior since that update has unquestionably helped us weather things. To that end, a huge thanks up front: thank you so much for your support over this sports-less summer, where the challenges in your own lives no doubt dwarf any concerns you might have about BN or the writers here. And yet you kept coming. That’s how we know you do care, and it means the world to us. You readers remain the single most important part of everything we do.
So, let me do you the courtesy of telling you things where things stand over the past four months.
I’ll save the euphemisms: yes, we’re still getting hammered. Traffic was almost instantly halved when sports shut down, and even with the glimmer of hope that they can return soon, it has not rebounded yet. You could squint and say maybe it’s only down like 45% in June/July, but these trends tend to play out over longer horizons. This summer has been terrible. We anticipated that, but I would say optimism that the return of sports would bring us back to “normal” traffic levels has waned. There are a lot of structural and cultural reasons that I no longer think that’s going to be the case – the appetite for sports has been impacted in some very fundamental ways by the pandemic. Even when sports are played, it’s pretty clear that traffic will not return to what we would otherwise expect to see until next year or perhaps even later.
But we’re not going anywhere. To reiterate what I said last time, with traffic so down, we’re just trying to focus on being consistent in providing the news and entertainment you came here for in the first place. Just because the traffic isn’t where we want or need it to be, that doesn’t mean the folks who ARE coming don’t deserve to still get what they signed up for. You want the stuff, and we want to provide the stuff.
As for our revenue/operations picture, the good news is that ad rates have rebounded a little bit since May. They’re still not where the sports media industry needs them to be, but for us, it’s helped turn revenue from being down 65% to being down only about 40%. Obviously that’s still quite bad, but we’re really hoping that we can figure out ways to keep chipping away at that in the coming months (adding sports gambling content and partners is a huge part of that, so when you see those opportunities, PLEASE check them out).
The PPP loan from the Small Business Administration also really helped float us this summer, and we’ve not yet had to impose things like layoffs or pay cuts or furloughs. My main focus on that side of things is to make sure we can all keep our jobs, that the guys here can all stay on at full pay, and that they have the confidence that – whatever else is going off the rails in the world – they don’t have to worry right now. So to Michael, Luis, Eli, and Bryan: thank you guys so much for continuing to rock. We got this.
The long and the short of the situation is that things are still hurting, but we still care deeply about doing what we do, about serving the readers, and about sticking this out so that we can be here on the other end, enjoying sports together and looking back at that brutally difficult 2020 year.
If you want to help us out in a tangible way right now, let me offer some easy things that REALLY DO HELP US OUT so much:
1. Please keep coming to the site, reading, enjoying, and so on and so forth. It’s why we’re here.
2. When you see our stuff on Twitter and Facebook, please share it. Comment on it. Like it. Reply to it. Tell your social media friends to follow us there. You have no idea how huge it is for us.
3. Super specifically? Help us get more followers for our Bears coverage (Twitter and Facebook) and our Bulls coverage (Twitter and Facebook). I can’t overstate how much that winds up helping the whole site (including Cubs) in the long run.
4. Turn off your adblocker, or at least whitelist BN. Please.
5. If you see an offer here at the site that appeals to you – buying shirts, signing up for a sportsbook, etc. – please check it out.
I also want to say again that I hope you are all taking care of your physical health, your mental health, and the people around you. Taking care of yourself and those around you really does wind up helping everyone else, including the dude who writes on that one blog you like to visit sometimes.
Much love to you and yours. Thank you again for everything.