The below is a statement from DirtTRI founder/publisher Jimmy Archer
I am sure many of you have noticed activity at DirtTRI has been slow lately.
The fact is we – I, at this point – have been doing everything I can to make DirtTRI work as a media outlet. Unfortunately a series of events have conspired against us.
As many of you will know XTERRA/Team Unlimited was sold over the winter. My opinion as to if this will be good or bad for the XTERRA brand and the sport of off-road triathlon changes almost daily. There are a lot of “what ifs” in that discussion and I’m not going to make any assumptions publicly. I hope for, and wish XTERRA all the best, but honestly, I’m not sure where off-road triathlon is headed.
However, I will say the sale of XTERRA did effect DirtTRI in a big way. We were working to create and promote new events and event series in the US, Canada, and Europe aimed at complimenting the XTERRA series. Many of these events whould be shorter and less technical with an aim toward introducing new athletes to the format of cross triathlon. The sale of XTERRA caused a pull back and reassessment of those plans from our partners and sponsors across the board.
In short industry confidence in the concept in off-road triathlon is tentative. Advertising and partnership dollars have been withdrawn and in general there is an admitted “wait and see” mentality from the outdoor industry as well as National and International governing bodies.
To be very clear. I am not blaming anyone or making excuses. The fact is sport in general is in a transitional period. Triathlon is trying to pull out of a slump in growth and participation. The NFL and F1, two of the largest entities in global sport are facing very similar challenges, viewership is down and ad dollars with it. Hell, NASCAR might not survive another two years, and it was arguably the largest sporting brand in the world not long ago.
When I launched DirtTRI in January of 2015 the concept of a dedicated media outlet on a digital platform catering to the niche segment of off-road multisport was widely received very positively.
The idea of a website covering the off-road segment supported by ads and affiliate marketing was realistic and doable. In general the swim, bike, run industry was very open to the idea of DirtTRI acting as a conduit to a group of athletes they had either not been able to reach or in many cases didn’t fully realize existed.
However, in just three years the idea of advertising directly with a digital brand has all but evaporated. Targeted advertising via Google or similar has replaced traditional B to B advertising. This makes complete and total sense. The analytics provided to the client and used to more directly target potential customers is an exponentially better option.
In many cases it is better for the media outlet as well. Unless you are a very niche property…like DirtTRI. In a good month DirtTRI sees just over 100,000 unique views. The way Google etc. pay out ad revenue means that in the absolute ideal situation we will only see about $1000 per month. Unfortunately this is not enough to run DirtTRI as a business.
In the end DirtTRI is in the conundrum of needing to grow its audience but not having the financial means to do so.
This lead me to consider event production. The one comment we get most from readers, partners, and advertisers is “why aren’t there more off-road events”. The athletes want more events and the industry is motivated to support event production. This seemed like a solution to address DirtTRI’s growth needs.
I also investigated investment with VCs, funds, and private sources. Unfortunately due to the volatility of sport in general we received a lot of interest but could not find a viable way forward.
Which brings us back to what I mentioned above and the sale of XTERRA greatly changing opinions of the industry and organizational entities within triathlon.
I have to admit, once the reality of the situation became entirely clear at the Outdoor Retailer show in July, I considered just pulling the plug on DirtTRI and shutting the whole thing down. However, I have put far too much time and effort into this to just kill it.
Currently I am job hunting. After almost 4 years working on DirtTRI my takeaway is just over $20k in debt… and a tremendous amount of experience as an entrepreneur, marketer, strategist and so on. While it has not been lucrative at least I can say I learned a lot.
I won’t kill DirtTRI, but I am currently thinking it will evolve into more of a blog format with a focus on off-road endurance sport in general, including but not limited to off-road triathlon. Managing the business of DirtTRI on the back end has all but totally removed me from writing and content creation…which is why I got into this in the first place. I am eager to get back to writing.
Frankly I am open to suggestion as to what DirtTRI followers would like most. I have 25+ years of experience as a professional triathlete, runner, and cyclist. I think I have some knowledge to share, but I’d rather not just be screaming into a chasm.
I wrote this post because the DirtTRI audience deserves and explanation of why the site has gone quite.
I am frustrated that this didn’t workout the way I’d hoped but I am entirely confident I have done everything I can to advocate and grow the sport of off-road triathlon. Thank you for joining me on the ride…and as I said, its not done, but it will be changing.