Case Study: Urheiluviikko.net (Finland / Malta)

The name of the publication and / or company

Urheiluviikko.net, High Roller Factory Ltd.

Established

The site was established by DeeReal t:mi in 2006. In 2010 the ownership of the site was transferred to High Roller Factory Ltd.

Web Address

 Urheiluviikko.net

Form of the company

Urheiluviikko.net was originally launched by DeeReal, Pekka Värre’s one man company. Currently the site is owned by High Roller Factory Ltd, a Maltese joint stock company.

Describe your site or business in few words.

Urheiluviikko.net is a website that is aimed for enthusiastic sport followers and sport betters. The main emphasis is on football, ice hockey and other sports favored by the Finns.

Background information – how it all began?

  • Urheiluviikko was founded by Pekka Värre in 2006 with his ”own savings”. According to Värre, the establishment expenses were rather small.
  • The concept of Urheiluviikko.net wasn’t unique, but Värre thought that there was nevertheless room for this kind of site among the finnish web publications.
  • Freelancers were hired on an as-needed basis.
  • The forming of the content creation team took some time.
  • The famous finnish ice hockey coach Juhani Tamminen was hired to run a regular blog on the site. In those days blogging was ”the thing”.
  • Before establishing the site, Värre had worked as a journalist.
  • One of the first tasks was acquiring a domain and server space for the site. Värre has been very satisfied with WordPress, the content management system that was chosen to be the publication tool for Urheiluviikko.net.
  • The business has been profitable from the very beginning. Initially the income was quite small, but then again, the expenses were even smaller.

Staff numbers

Who’s creating the content

Editor-in-chief Pekka Värre is the only permanent employee in Urheiluviikko.net. Besides him the company uses between 5-10 freelancers on a yearly basis for content creation. Värre is the originator of most of the content. Every now and then interviews and news are bought from outside sources. Värre is also responsible for marketing, selling and other business operations. In the future he might buy marketing services from another company.

Freelance-journalists user their own companies for charging High Roller Factory for their services. Interns have also been used for content creation, but ever since the ownership of the site was transferred to the Maltese High Roller Factory Ltd., this has not been the case.

An ICT-company specialized in coding takes care of the technical updates and improvements of the site. Major site wide renovations are made 1-2 times per year.

The Urheiluviikko.net team

Editor-in-chief Pekka Värre is responsible for content creation and business operations (including marketing and selling)

5-10 freelance journalists

A code-company (about 3 workers) is responsible for the technical administration, updates and improvements of the site

How do you divide your time between business and content creation?

Värre uses about 80% of his time for content creation and 20% for business operations and routines. These portions can change however, depending on the situation.

How they make money

Revenue models and sustainability

Would you say your business model is sustainable?

Absolutely.

How much is your yearly  revenue?

160 000 euros in 2011.

Business profit (= revenue – expenses) 130 000 € (160 000 € – 30 000 €)

How much do you pay to your contributors?

The compensations paid for the freelancers vary. They are smaller than the fees of the official journalistic guidelines. From time to time Värre barters with other companies. He might for example write a press release for a code company, and the code company could in return make a technical update for the Urheiluviikko.net website.

What kind of advertising you sell?

Betting companies advertise on the Urheiluviikko.net website. Usually High Roller Factory makes direct contracts with these companies. Sometimes there’s a third company acting between the two. Pay per month is an often used advertising type.

Advertising types on used by Urheiluviikko.net

Commonly used: Cost Per Action, Sponsoring and Text links
Possible future options: Cost Per Click, News Letters, Localized advertising
Formerly used: Pay Per Post, RSS

Asses the impact of different advertising types on your income

Cost Per Action is definitively the biggest. In 2011 it covered about 90% of all the income that originated from different forms of advertising.

Other revenue sources, products and services

Occasionally Värre consults other companies in the subject of web journalism. As was mentioned before, articles written by Värre or one of Urheiluviikko’s freelancers are sometimes traded for other companies’ services. Every now and then High Roller Factory sells customized journalistic content for customers. ”Our starting point is in trying to figure out what’s best for our customer”, Värre describes. Usually High Roller Factory has the right to publish the customized content on Urheiluviikko.net as well.

Marketing networks – to a small extent – have been used too. Värre is also  interested in learning more about crowd-funded reporting, a new innovation in web journalism.

Do you see your publication as your main product?

Yes. Urheiluviikko.net is High Roller Factory Ltd’s main product.

Would you define your company a journalistic organisation or a media organisation?

To Värre media organisation sounds better. He feels that journalist’s guidelines are hardly followed nowadays in the Finnish media. ”I know it would be correct to say that we follow the journalist’s guidelines, but I feel that no one in Finland is truly following them today…” Because of the hardening competition, media companies can’t afford to fully implement the journalistic ethos anymore. For example, a piece of news is followed through only if it sells or is otherwise profitable.

Do you follow journalistic principles in your publication conventions?

(See above.)

What would be the most important thing on your road to sustainability?

Värre defines self improvement and the development of business as the two most important things on the road to sustainability. Staying on the cutting edge of new developments in this line of business is also important, but you shouldn’t rush headlong and blindly into everything trendy and new. One has to always think analytically about how the integration of new things in to the company’s business will show in the revenue figures.

According to Värre legislation too plays an important role in the future of High Roller Factory and Urheiluviikko.net: ”For example the future of the betting related EU-legislation will have a crucial impact on Urheiluviikko.net’s future, because right now the majority of the site’s advertisers are betting companies.” Värre criticizes the Finnish betting related legislation for moving into the opposite direction to the European ones: ”Spain and Denmark have opened up their betting related legislations, while in Finland Veikkaus, Finntoto and RAY hold on to their betting monopolies.”

Other concerns

Värre feels, that in today’s media climate where media companies no longer hold on to journalist’s guidelines it is important to teach critical media skills for children and students: ”It’s always a good thing to ponder upon the motives behind media texts. Why was something written in such and such a way?”