2018 trends: Publishers see audience interest with niche verticals in sports, politics and lifestyle

Editor’s note: As we wind down 2018, the Local Media Association is looking at some of the biggest trends of the year and sharing much of what is working in that space. We kick things off with a look at niche verticals.

2018 Trend: Niche Verticals

As publishers went searching for consumer revenue this year, niche verticals were being tested all over the place. Reader revenue became a focal point for publishers as more clearly realized their digital future could not be supported solely from online advertising.

While niche verticals are a slice of a consumer revenue strategy, they do offer a hopeful path for publishers who are trying to find passion topics that audiences potentially may be willing to fork up a few dollars a month for.

And for many, there seems to be some light around this idea.

We have rounded up a few who are doing it well to serve as inspiration as you think about how your organization could potentially get in on the niche vertical space for 2019

SPORTS CONTENT IN METRO MARKETS: It was a big one this year. Numerous McClatchy newspapers including the Kansas City Star, Miami Herald and Charlotte Observer, all launched niche verticals around sports content in their communities. Presumably, it’s an opportunity in those locations because of the college and pro followings of those teams. In Kanas City, for example, The Star charged $2.50 a month for access to the content.

SOME ARE TRYING TO CAPITALIZE ON HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: The Dallas Morning News rolled out a digital subscription play for their high school sports coverage. They flexed the sure size of their coverage as well as tools like play-by-play coverage that fans could follow. For $5 a month you could get access.

MANY GET POLITICAL: There were a variety of organizations that decided their political content was worth a subscription play. The Atlanta Journal Constitution launched Politically Georgia, which provides a deep offering of politics coverage. It includes everything from stories to galleries to commentary and even a resource guide. Then there’s the Texas Tribune’s successful newsletter The Blast. For $350 a year, you get what they bill as a very exclusive newsletter. The Tribune has a dozen reporters contributing to the newsletter.

FEATURES IS HOT: Weddings — among magazine publishers — has developed into a big vertical trend. This article notes three major brands launching them. And then there’s beer. This one from The San Francisco Chronicle maps them and features tons of info to help readers pick the perfect one to visit.

AND THE PURE PLAYS … Companies like The Hustle, a daily e-mail newsletter for millennial professionals, have found a hungry audience for tech and business content and an interesting business model that can clearly calculate the lifetime value of every subscriber and has built a robust ambassador program. Others like Nerd Wallet, have employed their newsroom to write SEO-rich content that helps consumers make informed personal finance decisions.