Our small group of Patreon supporters have been privy to some changes afoot at Daily Thunder for a minute, and I’m here to share those changes with you. To get this out of the way: I am not announcing a paywall. I have a bunch of longwinded thoughts I’d love for you to read below, but I won’t bury the lede. Here is what will be different around these parts moving forward:
Dead: Pregame primers and Recaps.
Remixed: Bolts. Essentially the “classic” link list but with some opening thoughts and flashier design.
Still here and better than ever: Feature writing, Journal entries, podcasts, Crossbolts, Cartoons, Crosswords, and the soul of DT.
Most of this content will typically be available first for Patreon supporters, arriving in their morning inbox hours or sometimes days before they publish on the website for all. Maybe that makes total sense to you, and maybe it doesn’t. Here’s an explanation.
The race to write and publish the earliest and Google-friendliest stories (like previews and recaps) was a losing one for us. The reality, for both Daily Thunder and our readers: booming blog traffic is increasingly an artifact of the past, as is written blog content for those dwindling numbers of people who want to read it. This is why outlets across the internet (including the online Thunderverse) are reducing coverage and charging per-click premiums rather than trying to expand coverage and audience size.
So DailyThunder.com is now a Patreon-oriented model. Again, no paywall, but our written content is being designed for a particular crowd: people who still want quality, original daily content enough to consider subscribing like they would while browsing the digital rack for papers and magazines. Like real newspapers, the “Daily” Thunder now needs subscribers to thrive as a traditional team rag. We won’t shut out non-Patrons from blog material, but they just might see it a little later than supporters who will have those daily journals, bolts, and more in their morning inbox.
One “new” way to recoup value has been one of Daily Thunder’s oldest hallmarks: rounding up news and notes and commenting on them. This describes the new wave of substacks and other newsletters, as well as the Daily Bolts that existed at this here site for so long. Like many things at DT, we tried to reinvent the Bolts to serve both social media and blog readers while still pumping out everything else we needed to, but were unsuccessful (blame me). We’re going back, mostly. This week, our Patreons have received morning bolts Tuesday, Thursday, and today. You will see them on the blog at noon.
Another form of content unjustly stripped of value in the ultra-modern digital age has been extensive beat writing, something Daily Thunder’s Brandon Rahbar is so skilled at that I’m comfortable pronouncing him the most underpaid man in NBA coverage (blame John). Especially in this part of the eroding Thunder beat landscape, we’ve delivered more with less than any other outlet. Fans rely on Brandon for quotes, news, and takes, Ryan Woods for every-game analysis beyond the headline, and Olivia Panchal to set the spicy Thunder discourse every week. Brandon will still be logging two journal entries every week, and Ryan will be podcapping each contest. Crossbolts and other multimedia will keep flowing.
Clearing slots from the innings-eater type posts will give us more room to hopefully publish more excellent original articles. Here are other growth areas we have our eyes on:
- Interactive chats and live streams
- More video content, especially that which shines a better spotlight on our contributors whose draft research, storyline forming, and take artistry deserves a broader audience.
- All things draft. This offseason, we are no longer exclusively on standings-watch. Those premium picks, wherever they fall, start moving from hypothetical to actual.
Two things will help us expand in these directions. Better management of the resources we already have (the changes we’re implementing) and, plainly, more monetary support. Our current support levels help us compensate contributors, but with a very low ceiling. We are opening up more avenues for that support. Fun, limited merchandise, a tip jar, and more Patreon tiers now exist to help us survive and thrive.
Yes, we’ve toyed with what you love, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so successfully. But notably, we have not sold DT’s soul and gone to the gutters as other desperate outlets have. (Erected a paywall. Run pure clickbait. Shoved ads in your face.) It’s been tricky, especially with a pandemic blowing up virtually all of our best laid plans. But it is still extremely rewarding to see your clicks, comments, jokes and arguments bouncing around everything we do. If you have suggestions to make Daily Thunder more rewarding for you as a reader or supporter, please tell us.
As always, thank you for supporting Daily Thunder.