´ Steel Curtain Rising: Watch Tower: SteelersLive.com Goes Dark as Tribune-Review Pulls Plug

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Watch Tower: SteelersLive.com Goes Dark as Tribune-Review Pulls Plug

This is old news to many, but the Tribune Review has pulled the plug on the SteelersLive.com site as of September 1, 2009.

SteelersLive.com was originally home to one of the first Steelers websites back in 1995, although it carried a different domain name. I am not sure when the Trib. changed the URL to SteelersLive.com, but for many years it severed as the paper’s primary Steelers page.

Then, in 2005 (or perhaps 2004) the Tribune-Review split their Steelers sites in two, SteelersLive.com became a combination premium, pay-per-view site dubbed SteelersExtra which shared space with a section dedicated to user generated content.

As mentioned when Mike Prisuta resigned from the Tribune-Review, yours truly paid for a subscription to SteelersExtra for at least a year, if not two, just to read Prisuta’s columns. When Prisuta moved to the free section, I stopped paying.

A Blow Steelers Nation’s Blogging Community

The SteelersLive.com site was the Trib’s attempt to corner the market for all things Steelers in cyberspace. Fans could upload photos, create polls, run their own blog, and upload news links to any article that interested them.

It was a great idea, and the Tribune-Review was ahead of the Post-Gazette in terms of inviting two-way interaction with readers.

The news link section was perhaps the most popular feature. Steel Curtain Rising probably had close to a hundred posts listed there, and they were a huge generator of traffic, both for new visitors and repeat traffic. Without SteelersLive.com, who knows where this site would be today?
I can tell you our unique visitor total would be way, way down. I am sure that many other sites, such as Steelers Today, can say the same thing. SteelersLive.com will be missed by many.

Short Sighted Strategy?

Setting Steel Curtain Rising’s self-interest aside, one has to wonder if this is the smart business move for the Tribune-Review.

Newspapers are getting hammered, and Steel Curtain Rising has gotten second hand confirmation that Tribune-Review did indeed pull the plug on SteelersLive.com to cut costs.

Many newspapers have tried and most have failed to charge for access, so the demise of SteelersExtra surprises no one.

But what is the logic of dismantling the user-driven portion of the site? The Trib. simply took down the site. For about two weeks it was impossible to access it, then they simply directed people to their main Steelers page.

It wasn’t until the second week of September that I found a note on the main Steelers page informing that they’d killed SteelersLive.com. The sparse announcement says something about informing paid subscribers via email, but the Trib. made no other announcement nor giave advance notice to anyone.

I honestly do not know how much it would have cost to maintain the user-generated portion of the site, but going soley on the traffic Steel Curtain Rising from them, SteelersLive.com had a steady stable readership.

Managing space on a webpage can be tricky business, but one would think the Tribune-Review could have worked some of the user-generated elements into their main Steelers page.

In fact, they never seemed to do much to integrate the two pages. Shockingly enough, they did not even cross link them, which I always thought was a mistake.

Today's economy is battering newspapers, and the Tribune-Review was losing money before the DOW and NYSE went south. I supposed the brass in the Tribs' business department had their reasons, but simply letting SteelersLive.com go dark from one day to the next seems rather shortsighted.


Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Maybe the unfortunate worker-bees who work for the Tribune-Review are okay, but management there is rotten, starting at the top.

Pulling the plug on SteelersLive.com is a curious move, to say the least, especially considering that the start of football season was just around the corner. Weird. There's almost certainly more to the story.

KT said...

I agree. Newspapers are struggling just keep their heads above water, so if the numbers dictated that SteelersLive had to go, well I guess I understand.

But they could have made SOME kind of announcement. Likewise, they're still preserving the fan photo gallery.

My guess is that the IT related costs of storing all of those pictures have got to be more than storing a series of HTML links.

And you're right, the timing is curious. 2+2 is not equalling 4 here.