Outside Interactive Inc., the media company formed with this year’s acquisition of Outdoor
magazine, aims to convert its readership into memberships. The business model can work by
offering a mix of exclusive content and value-added services for outdoor enthusiasts.
The company in May introduced Outside+ as a bundle of ad-free digital content from its more than 20
enthusiast magazines, access to the Gaia GPS maps app, discounts on outdoor gear and early access to events, among other perks. Members also receive a print subscription to Outsideand one
The program was one of the first signs of a new direction for Outside
under new owner Robin Thurston. The tech entrepreneur co-founded the
workout-tracking app MapMyFitness, which was sold to sportswear company Under Armour for $150 million in 2013. He entered the publishing business two years ago with the acquisition of Pocket Outdoor Media
, whose brands included VeloNews, Triathlete, Women’s Running
The company expanded with the purchase of magazines including Ski, Backpacker
and Yoga Journal
from Active Interest Media last year.
With the acquisition of Outside
from longtime publisher Larry Burke, Pocket rebranded as Outside
A key part of Outside’s revenue
growth strategy will be to entice existing subscribers and readers of its websites into becoming members. Outside
magazine has 530,000 print subscribers, while the print circulation for all
of its other magazines is 680,000, The Washington Post reported
in a profile of the company.
Thurston forecast that Outside can be profitable within a year, while its longer-term plan is to change its revenue mix to be more diversified among paying readers. Instead
of generating 70% of its revenue from advertising, Outside wants to shift toward 70% from circulation in the next three years. It can reach that goal by converting 10% of visitors to its free
websites into subscribers, the WaPo reported.
It’s an ambitious goal, but there is an opportunity to connect with younger adults who are seeking adventure
travel they can share with their friends and followers on social media. As people hunger to get outdoors and resume air travel after a year of quarantining during the pandemic, there should be renewed
interest in outdoor media brands.