In a nutshell: By automating all match reports, Mittmedia have freed up newsroom resources to produce sports journalism that drive conversions and engagement.
”Sports has been the single biggest contributor to Plus conversions and engagement, no contest. Sports is key to our digital subscription success.”
Robin Govik, Mittmedia Director of Development
With 22 news titles, Mittmedia is Sweden’s largest local media group. Financial constraints in an ever tougher media market, over years meant that coverage of local sports was suffering. In 2015 the publisher came up with a solution: automated editorial texts for the wider coverage would free up journalists to do more in-depth reporting. The result: 40% of conversions to paying subscribers now happen through the extended and improved sports content.
The editorial sports team’s strategy was simple: With the Sports bot producing all the pre- and post match texts, reporters could spend their time on more in-depth journalism, more video content plus there would be resources to do more live streamed lower league football.
By letting the Sports bot take care of the routine work in reporting football, ice hockey, floor ball and other team sports, resources in the organisation were freed up for more qualitative work. The result? Not only has MittMedia sport achieved its high goals for better and more modern coverage of local sports. The improved sports coverage has also helped drive conversions to paid subscibers. It turns out sports is the highest converting content of all on MittMedia’s sites. This in turn has meant that – rather than robot journalism reducing the number of reporters – MittMedia has been able to hire additional sports reporters. Says Andreas Karlström, Online Editor for the Gästrikland region: ”I daren’t even imagine the impact it would have on us at the Gävle newsroom if Sports didn’t contribute Plus conversions and page views. The interest in sports generally, and in our local hockey team Brynäs in particular, seems to be insatiable.”
Results: In the first year after match report automation and reorganisation, sports became the engine for driving reader revenues. Sports contributed between 30–40% of all digital subscription sales, which were priced at €9/month. Mittmedia’s sports journalism generated 10,000 new subscribers in that first year (total number of subscribers 1 Jan 2018: 50,500)