Axios is expanding its network of local newsletters, going from its 14 markets, including Washington, D.C., Denver and Chicago, to a total of 25 markets, the brand announced on Thursday.
In an update on its own Axios Local web page and an interview with Adweek, Axios said the 11 new locations will include Boston, Miami, Seattle and San Francisco. CFO Fabricio Drummond and Axios Local General Manager Ted Williams told Adweek the new sites will be live by the third quarter of next year.
Further growth to another 25 cities is expected by the end of 2022.
Axios Local launched late last year with the acquisition of the Charlotte Agenda. It followed that acquisition with the rollout of similar sites based on the same model: Free, daily, early morning newsletters filled with local news and staffed by small teams of two or three local reporters in each city. Ad sales and support functions are centralized at the company’s Arlington, Virginia, headquarters.
The intent, Axios says in its typically clipped way, is to “help readers get smarter, faster about their hometowns. Local reporters will deliver scoops, offer sharp insights and curate the best local reporting in our proven ‘Smart Brevity’ style.”
Drummond tells Adweek that Axios Local is tracking for $5 million in revenue this year, almost entirely from national advertising, and is looking to double that number in 2022. But with the Facebook-Google Duopoly soaking up so much local advertising, the local news game is exceedingly difficult.
All over the country, news deserts have formed as news organizations have become shadows of their former vibrant, essential selves, or they have disappeared. Revenue is low, and costs are high. Other news organizations, including Politico and HuffPost, not to mention the Patch series of websites, have found the going tough.
But Axios is clearly undaunted.
“Google and Facebook eat up a lot [of ad revenue], but they don’t eat up everything,” Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, a former Washington Post reporter who co-founded Politico in 2007, told the WaPo in May. “Most of our investment is going to be in journalism. If we can hire two or three of the best reporters in each market, we think we can develop a loyal following.”
Strong, reliable local news is essential for communities everywhere, and it’s becoming more scarce. Axios thinks it has found the key. Its 50-person team now has more than 500,000 subscribers and an open rate of between 30% and 55%, Williams told Adweek.
The next 12 months will tell the story.