by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, October 31, 2011
I’m going to a subscription model this season. I don’t know if I need to say any more than that because most of you reading this, especially if it’s in the first week of November, know what to expect when you come here. And you may have even considered what would happen if you were no longer allowed to freely roam around all corners of this place. So perhaps the rest of this is unnecessary, but I encourage you to read on.
I’ve maintained this site for roughly a decade. Admittedly, it was pretty awful in its initial form. After a few years of aimless wandering, the goal of this site became more focused late in the 2004 season: Improve the understanding of college basketball through statistical analysis. I’ve talked ad nauseum about why the light bulb went on then so I won’t repeat it here, but since then, I’ve had a clear idea of what I want to do with this place.
I would like to think that any success this site has experienced has been because it isn’t a “stat site”. There’s a conscious effort here not to throw as many stats as possible at you, but to provide insight. Posting things like points per game, rebound margin, or field goal percentage would bring mainstream eyeballs to the site, but you don’t see them here for a reason – they provide less insight than more advanced statistics. Traditional primitive statistics have a higher risk of misleading the audience, and thus, have no place on my site.
When successful coaches go looking for insight, they are coming here, and I think that’s because kenpom.com is not a stockpile of stats, it’s a clearinghouse of information. There’s credibility here that distinguishes this site from others that are driven by a different mission. Heck, I’m even willing to give a critical eye to metrics that I once embraced.
In the interest of distributing this information, I’ve long been reluctant to hoist the pay wall despite an avalanche of advice to the contrary. If one is going to influence people’s thinking through information, adding an obstacle to accessing that information is counterproductive. Obviously, generating meaningful revenue would be nice, especially when that process is compatible with the site’s mission. But clearly, in the early years of this site it was not in my best interest to charge a fee or even clutter the site with ads. If you want to open people’s minds there have to be minds available to being opened.
I’m going the subscription route now because the site has pretty much achieved saturation among its intended audience. If you are interested in a more objective way to evaluate teams and players, then I’d like to think you know about this place and if it has some value to you, you’ll be willing to compensate me for my work. And if you’re not interested in doing this, we’ll still be friends. No hard feelings, I promise.
So beginning this season, you’ll need to pay $20 per year to access the data on the site. What does your subscription get? Well, for starters, you should know that the main ratings page and the blog will still be freely available to the public. However, if you want to drill down into team details or see any of the other information that brings insight to your college hoops experience, you’ll need to subscribe. And while the blog will still be on the free side, much of its content will refer to stuff behind the pay wall.
Beyond that, it’s difficult to promise specifics. Sure, I have stuff that I am working on, but right now I can’t be sure which of these this will be worth sharing. All I can promise is the innovation that has been a staple here for the past seven years. I won’t be creating new stats for the sake of creating them, but creating things that will help us understand our teams better. New tools being evaluated are things others haven’t conceived, and some of them are things I haven’t conceived. So much stuff just happens during the season in moments of inspiration. And I hope some these things will include member participation.
This move is not without its risks. The frequent links I get from the titans of the Internet will go away. (Though you’re still totally free to refer to stats that are on the subscriber side, guys and gals! Fair use, and all that.) And there will be other sites that fill this gap, perhaps substituting insight for ad-plastered pizzazz. However, I feel confident that this site will continue to enhance your understanding of college hoops in ways that others can’t provide.
Much like this site was to first to publish offensive and defensive efficiency for every team in D-I, the first to publish individual advanced statistics for every player in D-I, the first to post win probability graphs for every game in D-I, and the first to publish preseason predictions for every D-I game (coming Thursday!), my hope is that it will be the first to do other things that will become standards as well. So in addition to the insight you’ve become accustomed to, you’ll also be getting that innovation for your money. If you have enjoyed being a part of that for the past seven years, I think you’ll get plenty of value for your money.
[Administrative note: I plan to start accepting subscriptions by approximately next Monday. However, the pay wall won’t be turned on until the weekend of November 12th.]