SportsBusiness Journal and Sports Business Daily: From Startup to Industry Bible
2006 | Case No. SPM28
By 2006, Charlotte-based Street & Smith’s Sports Group (a division of American City Business Journals—ACBJ, a unit of Advance Publications) had built a franchise of sports business information resources (called the Sports Business Group). Publications included its flagship magazine, SportsBusiness Journal (SBJ), a national weekly trade magazine launched in 1998 that had a circulation of approximately 14,000 by 2005 (and its online companion, SportsBusinessJournal.com), SportsBusiness Daily (SBD), an online daily trade publication on the business of sports launched in 1994 and acquired by Street & Smith’s in 1998, as well as a Conference Group, which held conference programs that attracted the industry’s top players. According to Street & Smith’s, the sports business industry was one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the U.S. It was estimated to be $213 billion, twice the size of the auto industry and seven times the size of the movie industry. The print magazine industry in which SBJ participated was a robust one. According to the National Directory of Magazines, 18,821 magazine titles were available in the U.S. in 2004, up from 13,541 in 1998. In a short period of time, SBJ and SBD had become “must reads” for sports business executives and the bibles of sports business information. Its conferences had become “must attend” events in the sports industry. The publications provided critical news and information to sports industry leaders to help them compete in the highly competitive sports industry. SBJ covered breaking news and provided industry analysis in key areas such as sponsorships and marketing, media, labor and agents, finance, and facilities. Similarly, SBD had become the leading online daily trade publication on the business of sports. In a short period of time, SBD had become a vital information service, summarizing and prioritizing the industry news reported by over 400 media outlets across the country. Whitney Shaw, one of the founders of SBJ said: “We decided to buy SportsBusiness Daily and fold it into our Sports Business Group because it was a perfect complement to SportsBusiness Journal. Daily and weekly publications work nicely together in terms of keeping breaking news out in front of our readers, as well as providing industry trends and analysis.” By 2006, founding SportsBusiness Journal publisher Richard Weiss, in partnership with Whitney Shaw, had built a profitable business with a viable long-term business model. In the fickle magazine world where only one in ten magazines survived more than five years, SBJ had created a loyal subscriber base across the many different segments that make up the sports industry. Prior to launching SBJ, Weiss worked in publishing in Europe as the managing director of the European edition of the Wall Street Journal. Since its launch in 1998, The Sports Business Group of Street & Smith’s had taken advantage of several growth and expansion opportunities, from the acquisition of online sports company, SportsBusiness Daily to the launch of the conference business. However, despite the organization’s successes, the management team desired to continue to grow the business. Specifically, they wondered what new areas the Sports Business Group should enter and how to best execute the Group’s future growth strategy. They also hoped to evaluate past growth efforts in order to learn how to grow optimally in the future.
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