Today: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! New Pitch Owner Appears Poised to Kick Butt

Remember that stuff I wrote about the Pitch and its many problems and woes?

Well, you can forget about that now, it’s time to move on. That’s exactly what’s about to happen, if my examination new Pitch owner SouthComm‘s alternative news weekly Nashville Scene is an indication of what’s in store for Kansas City.  And more to the point, for the now-nervous wretches at Ink.

Oh yeah. Sources say the Kansas City Star owned Ink is shaking in its shoes, having taken the measure of SouthComm’s handiwork in Nashville. SouthComm may only be a four year-old firm, but its doings down south run circles around what Village Voice‘s Pitch has failed to accomplish here. Same goes for Ink, only different.

For starters, let’s run a few of the numbers.

Last week’s Pitch had 36 pages, 20 of which (61 %) were ads.

That’s a fairly healthy number, until you factor in that three to four of those ad pages looked promotional in nature, possibly bringing in little to no money. That would drop it to as low as 50% ads. That’s still liveable within reason, but we were doing 40 page Pitches and more in the ’90s when I was running the show.

Bottom line: the Pitch is hurting and it’s plain to see why editor CJ Janovy and Village Voice both bailed.

Now let’s look at Ink

At first blush Ink looks like it’s kicking butt with 68 pages. Au contraire.

Only 32 of those are ads, a paltry 47 percent.

Of those, there doesn’t appear to be more than a page, page-and-a-half of ads that might be freebies. That only brings it down to 45 percent, but that’s still a very low ad-to-editorial ratio. Add to that, insiders have long said the Star has used its ad clout to steer combo and or bonus ads (freebies) to Ink and you begin to wonder just how much real revenue Ink is staining its bottom line with.

One local venue, for example, recently turned down three free, full-page promotional ads in INK because it didn’t think Ink was a good fit for the band playing there – wasn’t hip enough.

Remember what I said about Ink being vacuous? Outside of its cover feature on 610 Sports host Nick Wright there’s practically nothing of substance to read in last week’s Ink outside of the ads.

Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks and the Nashville Scene

Last week’s Scene tipped the scales at a healthy 56 pages, 35 being ads. That’s a 62% kill rate.

That blows away both Ink and the Pitch.

Factor in Greater Kansas City’s 25% population advantage over Nashville and that translates into a 70 pager. In a perfect world, that is. Couple that with the Scene’s dramatically superior, upscale, coated-stock cover and inside pages – full color on each and every one – and you can see why Ink is worried.

The fact is that SouthComm gets it.

The Scene‘s features, columns, general news and entertainment content are far better presented than either the Pitch or Ink. And you can tell by the quality of the advertisers and the ads that it’s working. The Scene‘s got all of the hipness of the Pitch (and probably more), sans the dated hippie look and content and sub par printing quality.

At the same time, the Scene totally trumps Ink in appeal to upscale to mainstream advertisers. Something that the Pitch sorely lacks. And to say that the Scene blows Ink away in meaningful content is a huge understatement.

In short, the Scene is everything good about the Pitch and Ink, minus the two local publications glaring weaknesses. If SouthComm can work its magic on the Pitch, Kansas City is in store for a major upgrade and Ink a formidable new competitor.

The days of financially viable and healthy print publications may be numbered but the medium is far from dead. And things appear to be on the verge of getting a whole lot more interesting in the world of local alternative news weeklies.

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13 Responses to Today: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! New Pitch Owner Appears Poised to Kick Butt

  1. Mr. Brown says:

    It’ll get better
    when that new Fiat gets here…

  2. Gerald Bostock says:

    Read between the lines
    Translation: Hey, Nashville–I want a job!

  3. bschloz says:

    I thought Print Was Dead?
    Bring it on Pitch….I want to read Savage on high gloss!
    I would think Pitch would be a GoldMine?
    Seems like Specialty Printing is a pretty good niche these days.
    Wonder if STAR will still print for them. 🙂

  4. Hearne Christopher says:

    That’s a good question. But I don’t think so if the Pitch goes to a coated stock, magazine type publication

  5. Hearne Christopher says:

    Then you’d best use your real name so they can call you

  6. Hearne Christopher says:

    Ya think?

  7. High Gloss says:

    Now we’re talkin!
    That would be a cool move if that happens. From what I know about the Star, they get their glossy publications printed elsewhere

  8. smartman says:

    Star+Ink=Stink
    OK you bourgeois bohemians let’s think this through. Print it on hemp, use food grade inks so you can smoke it after you read it. Take that 435 South
    I agree with bschloz, THE PITCH, in the right editorial hands and the right business leadership should be a cash cow.

  9. Hearne Christopher says:

    And I agree with you both

  10. Rainbow Man says:

    Jen Chen
    Bring back those large investigative pieces that were interesting… not some cover story on an Ozark rap band… or whatever… Do some reporting.

  11. Jeff says:

    Pitch’s New Owners
    The guy over at wnbtv has been following the vvm lawsuit and its fallout for over a year. Last week he spoke with southcomm’s ceo – it looks like they’ll be a good fit for the pitch and kc.

  12. Jeff says:

    Pitch’s New Owners
    The guy over at wnbtv has been following the vvm lawsuit and its fallout for over a year. Last week he spoke with southcomm’s ceo – it looks like they’ll be a good fit for the pitch and kc.

  13. Jeff says:

    Pitch’s New Owners
    The guy over at wnbtv has been following the vvm lawsuit and its fallout for over a year. Last week he spoke with southcomm’s ceo – it looks like they’ll be a good fit for the pitch and kc.

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