Bay Area sports fans are used to painful seasons, but usually it’s a chronic pain. Especially with the Niners, the usual season sees poor play spread out over the entire season. We aren’t disappointed, because we never expected much.
Then there was today.
Today, 49er faithful and Bay Area-bandwagon hoppers alike felt the most acute sort of pain as Kyle William’s presented the Giants with a ticket to the Super Bowl 46.
But the pain wasn’t just felt at the Stick, in local bars and in living rooms around San Francisco. It was felt in the offices of the San Francisco Chronicle–and not just among the sports writers. Much in the way that Obama’s election in 2008 was a boon for newspapers around the country, the 49ers going to the playoffs has meant big bucks for the Chron.
The paper has produced two special sections dedicated entirely to the 49ers in the past two weeks.
Saturday, January 14
This day will be remembered by 49ers fans for one of the most exciting games in recent Niner history, with the Red & Gold topping the Saints to get within a game of the Super Bowl. But it will be remembered by folks at the Chronicle’s back office as the day thier “49ers NFL Postseason” special section came out.
Not only did the section, according my entirely unscientific survey of local newsstands and newspaper boxes, sell much better than the usual lackluster Saturday paper, but it was a cash cow in terms of advertising.
The 22 page section featured roughly 12 full pages of advertising. Everything from car dealerships to banks to Bud Light wanted to wish the 49ers luck while getting their name in a section that people will keep around as a memento.
In terms of editorial content, there were a few good articles and nice illustrations, but it was no heavy investment on the part of the Chronicle’s writers.
Sunday, January 22
Readers today were faced with an even fatter 26 page special “49ers NFC Championship Special Section” that was home to no less than 17 pages of advertisements. And those remaining nine pages of content? Photograph-heavy, and aside from a pretty cool illustrated spread in the center of the section, not all that i. Nonetheless, advertisers once again bit at the opportunity to get into a section sought after by excited fans.
The Chronicle would no doubt have produced a section for the Super Bowl, had the Niners have made it there. According to the previous progression, that section would be able to support a thirty-page section with just seven pages of content.
For a newspaper that often has next-to-zero ads in the sports section, that’s pretty freaking fantastic.
And aside from the financial gain, these sections endear readers to the Chronicle. It puts the newspaper in sync with what the community is feeling. For all the hype about the death of newspapers, people still flock to them for mementos. That’s why newspapers sold way more papers the day after Obama was elected: People wanted a 75-cent poster to remember the moment.
And the day after a Niners Super Bowl victory? The Chronicle wouldn’t be able to print enough papers to fill the demand.
So know that just as heads fell and curses flew around the Bay when Kyle muffed the ball, somewhere the staff of the Chronicle sales department was cursing for their own reasons.