How The Athletic Grew a Niche Audience to ~1m Subscribers in 4 Years

In 4 years, the sports news website The Athletic has become a guide for modern and legacy media entities, as well as niche-driven subscription businesses in many other markets, both in terms of revenue model and content. 

At a time when newspapers and online news sites were chasing page views, The Athletic introduced a subscription service, believing it provides more sustainable revenues and would allow journalists to focus on quality over quantity.

As of late 2019, The Athletic had nearly 1m subscribers paying ~$60 annually (many receive discounted rates), with ~$90m in funding. The company has grown from less than $100k in the first year to what Trends estimates to be ~$60m in revenue in year 4. As for journalistic accomplishments, The Athletic recently broke open the story of the World Series champion Houston Astros’ cheating scandal.