The Ringer Is Switching Up Platforms

From Medium to Vox Media

When the Bill Simmons-led site The Ringer came into being last year, it did so on blogging platform Medium, becoming the “first premium content website to live on Medium,” according to the announcement from Edward Lichty, Medium’s head of partnerships at the time.

But then Medium’s strategy shifted early this year, away from what founder Ev Williams described as the “broken system” of “ad-driven media on the internet.”

And now it is Simmons leaving Medium, for Vox Media. The organization announced today a partnership with The Ringer that moves the site onto Vox Media’s Chorus platform. According to the terms of the partnership, Vox Media takes over The Ringer’s sales and marketing efforts, where the site will be treated as part of Vox Media’s portfolio of sites, which includes another sports site, SB Nation. Vox Media and The Ringer will share ad revenue in some undisclosed split, but ownership of the site is still in Simmons’ hands

“This partnership allows us to remain independent while leveraging two of the things that Vox Media is great at–sales and technology,” said Simmons in a statement. “We want to devote the next couple of years to creating quality content, innovating as much as we can, building our brand and growing The Ringer as a multimedia business.”

In doing so, The Ringer creates another first; the arrangement is a new one for Vox, but may not be the last, depending on how it plays out.

In many ways, Ringer’s story up to and including this point is a microcosm of a media world still trying to figure out what and how to be in the digital age: a site started on the star power of its creator, as part of a platform that was beginning to experiment with partnerships, a course change by that platform into still-undefined alternative territory that prompted a move to a different platform with its own portfolio of sites and an attractive, in-house created content management system, all part of a new partnership that involves an experimental ad revenue sharing agreement. In short, it is part of a landscape consistently described as in flux, and willing to try revenue experiments in order to hopefully hit on a solution of relative permanence.