One of the biggest selling points of The Athletic after its launch was the lack of ads. The ad-free experience was a welcome change, given the amount of sites (sports, news, and everything else you can think of) that are flooded with obtrusive advertising.
Well, that’s gone now. On Sunday, The Athletic announced the launch of ads across its website and app. Publisher David Perpich announced the news, calling the new advertising “seamless” and also describing it as “a premium and relevant advertising experience.”
The introduction of high-quality advertising should feel seamless and will allow us to invest further in this world-class sports journalism. And we’ve been deliberate about creating a premium and relevant advertising experience for our subscribers.
Rest assured that the integration of advertising has no impact on our journalism. Independent journalism will always sit at the core of who we are at The Athletic.
Here’s an example of a mobile ad, taking up a good chunk of my screen.
I’d show you a desktop ad, but all I’m getting (even with my ad blocker turned off) is a gray box, as you see here.
Launching ads shouldn’t come as a surprise. Following its purchase of The Athletic, the New York Times revealed plans for ads on the site this past May during an earnings call. Naturally, they launched on the first NFL Sunday of the season.
I can stomach the ads as long as they’re not intrusive. Once they start interfering with the reading experience, they become a burden and a disservice to subscribers. If that day comes, I wouldn’t be shocked if the company adds an ad-free tier for an extra cost to their subscription model.