Bad week for digital media: The Players’ Tribune lays off eight
The Players’ Tribune, the athlete-centric sports publisher from Derek Jeter, has laid off eight employees as the company looks to shift its business strategy going forward, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Jeff Levick, CEO of The Players’ Tribune, confirmed that the publisher had a round of layoffs on Thursday, Jan. 25. He did not disclose which departments the cuts came from and declined to provide additional details on the new business strategy The Players’ Tribune is pursuing. As of April 2018, the publisher had 85 full-time employees in the U.S., which does not include new hires the company was planning to make in LA and in new international offices in London and Barcelona. News of the layoffs were first reported by Front Office Sports on Twitter.
“These decisions are never easy and are not taken lightly,” Levick said in a statement. “The decision was made as part of a shift in our business strategy to better position The Players’ Tribune moving forward — taking into account the acquisition we announced in December. We are committed to continue delivering the best products for our fans, partners, investors and athlete community. We will provide an update on our next steps in the near future.”
Ever since Levick, a former chief revenue officer of Spotify, joined The Players’ Tribune in Sept. 2017, the company has been focused on diversifying its business to become less reliant on advertising — and specifically, branded content. For almost all of its history, The Players’ Tribune has relied on advertising, in the form of athlete-starring custom videos and editorials made on behalf of advertisers such as Samsung, Gatorade and Bank of America, for almost all of its revenue. With Levick at the helm, the company was pushing toward areas such as developing, producing and selling shows to TV and streaming platforms.
In December, The Players’ Tribune purchased Unscriptd, a tech startup that allows athletes to record, edit and publish short-form videos. Unscriptd had roughly 2,500 athletes from international sports such as cricket, rugby and Formula One within its network. The company’s tech would be used to create a new mobile app called Players’ Post, which would allow athletes in the U.S. to do the same.
The layoffs at The Players’ Tribune come at a fraught time in digital publishing. In the past week, BuzzFeed laid of 15 percent of its workforce and Verizon Media Group (Oath) laid off 7 percent of its employees, both of which combined to total more than 1,000 employees. With BuzzFeed, that means more than 200 employees have lost their job, as the publisher continues to struggle under the weight of a digital ad market that is dominated by tech platforms. Others, including Vice Media, Vox Media and Refinery29 have undergone layoffs, as all pursue new revenue streams beyond advertising.
The Players’ Tribune, which has yet to turn a profit, according to sources, has raised more than $58 million from investors including IVP, Google Ventures and Legendary Entertainment.
‘Giving people more control’: Rise in flexible working is enabling older workers to defer retirement
Enforced working from home has opened many people’s eyes to the potential for flexible working, and for many older people it has offered them a way to defer retirement.
Member ExclusiveMedia Buying Briefing: ‘The golden age of audio’: New forms hit a higher note, but radio buyers still struggle to hear it
As digital audio continues to grow, forecast by eMarketer to hit $5.59 billion in 2021, media buyers and planners are still trying to find ways to make effective use of it.
Publishers boost climate change coverage as the issue takes the world stage
With the countdown to the COP26 summit underway, publishers are boosting their coverage of climate change in videos, articles, events and audio.
SponsoredHow legacy publishers are transforming into profitable streaming channels
Navdeep Saini, co-founder and CEO, DistroScale, parent company of DistroTV Connected TV (CTV) has become one of the fastest developing channels in advertisers’ marketing mix today. The pandemic led to an increase in CTV consumption, with 75% of consumers watching more streaming content than before quarantines set in. With streaming viewership continuing to gain momentum, […]
How Axios is tackling local news: newsletters from small teams, in more markets
Axios plans to have local newsletters in 23 markets in 2022. But local news is a challenging undertaking, and many have failed before it. How is Axios differentiating itself?
‘We see a world where publisher data replaces third-party data’: News U.K. puts its data at the nucleus of post-cookie push for media budgets
News U.K. has overhauled the way it collects, sorts and monetizes its audience data across all its titles via first-party data platform Nucleus.