If you haven't read it already, please read Mike Lynch's rundown of our new Stathead/Baseball service. I'm going to lay out some of the background for this change and explain some of the changes.
As I laid out in our post from early March, we are making changes to our Ad-Free and Play Index products.
Here is the thrust of what we said in March.
So we are making some changes. The Play Index for each site will be moving to Stathead.com. Stathead.com will become the center for all of our subscription products. We expect these products to include tools and information beyond just a redesigned set of Play Index tools. This won't happen all at once, but we'll start with baseball and then proceed through the remainder of our sports. Also, we will be ending our ad-free product and instead Stathead memberships will have ad-free built-in. There just aren't enough users to justify a separate ad-free product. These changes will begin this month and continue through April on baseball and then continue with the other sites after that.
If you are a subscriber, we will make every effort to make certain you are happy with the options we provide to convert your ad-free or Play Index subscription over to Stathead including the option of a refund on your subscription. You will be hearing more from us about the changes over the next few weeks as we will email users directly.
If you've looked at the cost of Stathead/Baseball vs the Play Index, you'll notice we've gone from $36/year (+ $20/year for ad-free) to $8/month. I realize this is a significant increase. As I said in my original post, we are extraordinarily reliant on ad revenue. Back in early March this seemed problematic. Now with the complete collapse of the advertising market it has the potential to be lethal. If you don't block our ads, you may have noticed that we now have more ads on our pages. This is in response to the downturn in ad revenue. Sports Reference is doing fine right now, but if we want to continue to succeed and also be aligned with the needs of our users, a healthy stream of subscription revenue is vital.
We also feel our products warrant this price. The only comparable products to our Stathead tools come from Elias and STATS LLC and would cost you $10,000+ a year to subscribe to. You could create your own from Retrosheet data, but that would probably take more than $8/month of your time to maintain.
We are using monthly billing for at least the first few quarters, so that we can monitor more directly the success we are having in recruiting and maintaining subscribers. We have discussed adding an annual billing option in the future.
For the time being, we will be maintaining both the legacy Play Index site (which has been free since the start of March) and the new site, but before too long we will take down the old Play Index site, probably late May. We are also working on converting the other Play Index sites. First will be hockey and then probably basketball after that.
We realize there aren't games being played and that you might be facing your own financial challenges at this time. Therefore, we are offering the first month free for all users. And then, until the leagues start playing games, we will be giving users the option of claiming additional free monthly subscriptions. We'll provide more details on the latter plan as we approach the time for subscriptions to be renewed.
If you are a current subscriber, we will be emailing you with information about how we will be converting your subscription to the new system and of course, we will provide your money back if you are unhappy with the conversion to Stathead that we are offering you. Our goal is to give you a more than fair deal and see you join us on stathead.com.
Please feel free to reach out to us if you have questions or concerns.