US sport subscription publisher announce UK launch

An American sports subscription digital media publisher is to launch in the UK in August and will focus on football, particularly the Premier League.

Around 55 editorial staff, mainly writers, are being lined up, including star names from national newspapers in what could turn out to be a major shake-up of the domestic industry.

The Athletic, which reaches 90 per cent of its customers through its app, promises to deliver a product which goes beyond typical sports reporting.

There are no advertisements and a pledge to avoid the click bait and automated videos which swamp most digital sports media outlets in Britain.

The Athletic is the brain child of ex-Strava colleagues Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann and was launched in 2016 in Chicago and Toronto. It now employs 300 people.

It currently services the USA and Canada in 50 different regions, covering all the major US sports and has recently expanded into podcasts and video.

Top specialists have been recruited for each new phase and the long-term aim is to add further sports to the UK model.

Akhil Nambiar, chief of staff at The Athletic, said: “This is not an extension of the US – this is about how to empower our writers for a UK audience.”

The Athletic say it has more than 100,000 subscribers paying £7.86 a month or £39.35 a year who can access 1,200 stories a week. There is also a financial backing of £78.7million and are reporting a profit.

Premier League sides Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United already have a presence on the site and the owners wish to expand that.