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Insidetri.com and VelonNews bought out

Velonews and Insidetri have been sold to the newly formed Competitor group (which owns Triathlete Magazine, Competitor Magazines, and Muddy Buddy). This is very significant for the triathlon journalism and advertising industry and will have a huge impact going forward. Right now they are saying that InsideTri will be rebranded as an “elite” magazine, which I guess means geared towards the triathlon geeks like myself that want more than just simple newbie-newbie-10-weeks-to-your-first-tri (which is NOT bad
and is needed).
Details are few at this point and it will be very interesting to see how this shapes our sport – the advertising combo packages will be the rage as they can pitch an insurance company (Aflac took over Irongirl) for example and offer print, on-line, and race promotion. One hiccup might be that we are in or heading towards a recession and triathlon is one expensive/fringe sport that will not hold it’s own versus increasing milk and oil prices. But ok apart from the short term – this new entity will wield more power than just about every other triathlon organization ex-ITU. Yes it will be more important than the WTC or USAT or any individual national entity. Pros are starved for media attention and the endorsement dollars that follow – last time I checked it’s not like the Australian’s or French are going to get a rising star an endorsement, plus all the big money races are here in the U.S. Don’t even start with USAT – they only care about the Olympics and getting more members, and the latest battles around Elites shows where they stand (which probably makes monetary sense for the now but not for the future). So yes this mega-merger matters and from taking a look around the interneto it sure seems like most people don’t care. Well they will care once we see more races on TV or less, better magazines or worse, better race coverage or worse, etc.

One aspect that will be particularly interesting (and that neither magazine will write about of course) is that InsideTri and Triathlete Magazine have had a healthy battle – and that would be a nice way of putting it. They publish from two different locations (Colorado and California) with different styles and focus. Triathlete has the “old guard” with the multisports.com crew and the whole San Diego mafia in general – “we were in the sport in the beginning and we have built this up from scratch”. On the other side InsideTri is the younger, hipper little brother that actually UNDERSTANDS the internet and has made it a point to evolve with the digital medium. Over the years we’ve seen and heard the little tid bits about Bike Count “arguments” (or partnerships) for example and for the most part that is just part of the healthy nature of competition.

What happens going forward is anyone’s guess. But I do see the following things happening:

1) The Old Guard (multisports.com, Duke, Competitor, etc) gain even more
power in the tri scene
2) Active.com gains more power (and yes they are the ticketmaster of our day – ridiculous fees – ridiculous I tell you! I will mail in a race form with a, gasp!, check, over active.com every time)
3) The insidetri guys can keep the on-line thing going and grow it – they are good at it and this might give them more resource$ – I could see race videos for every major race (Lifetimes series, Ironman, 70.3, and a few key ones like Wildflower, Roth, etc) popping u if they give Lars the money for equipment and travel.
4) Some shakeup in the monthly writers – I hope Dan Empfield and Friel stay, as well as Tinley. Some of the others should move on.
5) More TV coverage – this was going to happen anyways but now will have a
deeper network to draw from.

What won’t happen
1) The price of either magazine will go down
2) Any negative review of any product! (yes we get the joke = ads = $) but I’d love for someone to just write 1 negative review – ie “these newton’s are just a bunch of pros getting together to build a company and earn the rewards” : ) Or – “this dimpled water bottle is actually a joke and you should realize that the majority of the time you’ll have a
non-aero-gatorade bottle in your cage.”
3) More coverage for the non-hooked up crowd – ie the HFP races, Roth, smaller independent Bike Stores, etc.

And lastly since I can’t help myself – what would I do if I suddenly owned
this big Triathlon empire:
1) Kill triathletemag.com and throw bunches of money at insidetri.com.
2) Bundle subscription of 2 mags + way reduced active.com entry fees
3) Offer the back page of both mags to 1 mega advertiser, along with prominent display at Muddy Buddy (ie what Ford has done to the Ironman/WTC).
4) Region-oriented race coverage of every major race along with an editor. So you’d open up and see the “East Coast” report with clubs/races/local bike store ads, etc for that region – same would go for Western Europe or Asia, etc.
5) Building on the previous #4 – finally go global and do it right – keep the print mags in English – but use the website to have Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Japanese content along with that region (and translated back into English).
6) Have a section where on the ground non-pro triatheltes can write in articles – not just comments.

There is a nice discussion about this on slowtwitch.

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February 13, 2008 at 4:59 pm
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