I ncome from sponsors has been the lifeblood the media business since the earliest newspapers. A penny a copy turned a tidy profit in the 1800s, but much greater riches were there to be mined once the news barons realized they could sell access to their huge masses of readers.
They promoted it as “salesmanship in print.” We call it advertising.
It was a perfectly acceptable business model for at least a couple of centuries. Readers—and then radio and TV audiences—got cheap or free news and entertainment, and the marketing needs of an entire economy were served.
Then, paid search, social media, pay-per-click, and data mining came along and broke the model. Or, more accurately, beat the holy living crap out of it.
Advertising could now be tracked to an unprecedented level, pushing the limits of privacy beyond what even a Peeping Tom might consider too far. Before long, an unfortunate belief surfaced—that anything posted on the internet could “go viral,” and this belief quickly became gospel.
These ruptures in the conventional media landscape hit print the hardest. There are now fewer newspapers and magazines, and the survivors—like survivors of any disaster—look thinner. But traditional broadcast has also fallen into this cultural and economic sinkhole. The rise of DVR use, with the convenience of zipping through commercials, and Video Streaming, with the commercials conveniently missing altogether, sent aftershocks through the halls of broadcast and cable TV networks.
As print survivors, we may be a bit thinner, but we prefer to think of our condition as “leaner.” We could have slashed our content budgets when the number of ad pages we sold began to decline, but tf&g has not chosen that shortsighted strategy.
For example, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on postage each year to send subscriber copies through the mail. The US Postal Service provides a discount for subscription-based periodicals, if their advertising-to-editorial ratio stays below 70 percent. Without the discount, mailing each copy would cost more than our cover price. Despite this liberal allowance to pack nearly three quarters of each issue with ads and still receive the discount, we have rarely gone above 33 percent advertising.
Yes, our recent editions have had fewer pages. But, even as economic conditions for media companies like us have gotten leaner—and definitely meaner—you will still find artfully crafted writing from more than 15 monthly columnists, and you will also continue to find space devoted to six full length feature articles in every issue, plus a whole bag of regular sections and departments.
We have said all of that to say this: Thank God for those advertisers with the good sense to hang in and continue to use print, and especially texas fish & game to promote their brands. These companies have not only recognized the value of an engaged, passionate readership that is the prime market for their products, they have also supported our ongoing mission to bring you the best outdoors content possible.
Without sponsors providing support, our business would be radically different. Just to break even, we would have to charge more than $10 for a single copy of fish & game, and a one-year subscription would cost more than $100.
Please show these sponsors the appreciation due them. If you like what you read here, they are just as responsible for it as we are. Sure, you could skip over our ads quicker than on any DVR—that is the beauty of our centuries-old system.
But before you do, please remember how critical they are to this experience—as are most of the products they make for your use in enjoying it!