The Future of FLN
Readers will notice that FLN has not updated with new content in a while. Most of you know that in the past I have taken a break around this time due to needing to decompress at some point in the year and re-charge for the upcoming season.
This year it’s different.
Some of you know I have been exploring the possibility of developing a 24/7/365 broadcast, modeled on how the Golf Channel was founded on. Plenty of people I talk to are enthused about the possibility, but for the most part, it’s been words of support, not commitment.
Some years ago, probably just before Covid, I started to note occasionally that I had reached the limit of free content yet continued to try to stretch to include more. To put this into context, there are over 400 high school varsity programs between the boys and girls, and about 75 Independent club programs. There are about 45 college programs among all the levels: D1, D2, NAIA, MCLA, etc. We also publish press releases from NLL, PLL (although the continued middle finger PLL gives Florida caused me to pull back on that – they love to come to the state to earn money with clinics, but aren’t interested in our state beyond that, and never shown any interest at advertising their clinics unless they were free), World Lacrosse, USA Lacrosse, etc.
In the past, mostly at my expense, I traveled to weekend club events, IMLCA, USA Lacrosse, etc., on my own dime. Although I pulled back on in-person game coverage (in one year I covered over 40 games IN PERSON for writeups after working a full day), the time was reallocated to the broadcasts and other content. When Periscope was up and running, the after-game interviews went over 1,000 views much of the time. The ESPN West Palm podcasts with Wells Dusenbury were the MOST LISTENED TO on that site, even ahead of high school football. FLN consistently draws ratings . . . for OTHERS to capitalize on. I even teamed with Wells for the first season of PBA Men’s lacrosse broadcasts, for which I was not compensated.
During the season, I have provided a free morning broadcast 5x a week, have produced major, well-received content with Bobby Latmore (VSN), like the Who’s In/Who’s Out weekly show (hourly tapings-the first one this year had nearly 8,000 viewers at 1:00pm on a Tuesday!) and a season-ending 2-hour recap show that was well received. I’m always available for podcasts, interview requests, etc., and have recorded many. Interviewed by Inside Lacrosse and LacrosseTV/Lax Sports Network. Appeared multiple times on BSN. And the Weekly Polls, which are taken as more accurate than the FHSAA’s power rankings.
The site always relied on an advertising model for its revenue and the business side of FLN’s parent, Lacrosse Media Properties, did not rise to its mission, and was leaving a lot of money on the table from those who were committed to marketing through us. I have always had the content side covered, but unfortunately the site has been poorly served by those whose responsibility was to market us. I trusted the wrong person and promises were made that were not produced. That person, when I had this discussion with them, cavalierly said I should close down the site. That says volumes on their level of commitment, and I let it go far too long.
Some of the readers assumed I make my living from doing this, but that has never been the case. I am a Financial Representative by profession, and this site participation by me was as a hobby (trust me, when I started writing in 2013, I NEVER expected it to be more than just a fun thing to do). But the readers really liked what FLN was providing, and my time commitment became enormous, particularly in season, when I legitimately put in 40-50 hours a week, for a hobby. The site has over 2,700 Facebook followers and ‘Likers’, nearly 5,300 Twitter followers (ALL organic) and a fledgling Instagram following, which I never really have got my hands around. The YouTube channel is in place. And the following we have is hardly limited to our state; the Who’s In/Who’s Out broadcasts are 25-30% out-of-state viewers. On a typical week, we see 40+ states reading our content according to the Google Analytics.
Yet advertising revenue has gone nowhere, and I cannot stretch myself any further. Revenue on the site so far this year is minimal and the expenses of hosting exceed that. We have a Web Administrator who also volunteers his time, and it would be nice to compensate him SOMETHING too. And believe me when I say he deserves it for the time involved.
I can only assume at this point that FLN has been taken for granted, and me with it. And the lack of putting fresh content up is not just a planned down time, but a pretty ticked off content provider who needs to see something a lot more than a Thank You (though the Hall of Fame for the North Florida Chapter was great . . .).
I’ve religiously posted press releases and supported both non-profit AND profit events. We’ve always had the philosophy of growing the sport; but somewhere along the line we’ve become a forgotten part of the greater community beyond being a useful lap dog.
So here’s my thought process.
Do I completely stop FLN and put all my time into trying to develop the 24/7 channel? That would require all my time outside of my financial practice. It would be a huge undertaking, but a much better reward if successful. Every national lacrosse platform has limitations in their resources currently and a new model is needed to make coverage as wide as possible.
Do I move to Substack for a monthly subscription model that would truly show whether what I have done is worthy of people spending a nominal fee for? Some of you must have seen the story about Sports Illustrated getting caught using fake author names for their subscription articles, you don’t have to worry about me doing that. If my readers don’t see my content as worth a fraction of a Netflix subscription, then at least I have closure in my mind.
Keep FLN going but with a substantial commitment from the Florida lacrosse community to SUPPORT THE SITE? Put it fully behind a paywall except for the non-profit items?
One thing I can no longer do is what is being done currently. I turned 65 this year and frankly need to have more income coming in, as the practice is not a big one. I do not have a deep pocket; heck, I might as well sew them up in my pants. If I’ve been wasting my time the past 12 years, I need to know now.
I’m all ears.