By: Joe Strupp
In the two weeks since Boise State University won the Fiesta Bowl, capping its best football season ever at 13-0, and becoming the only undefeated team in the country, The Idaho Statesman has been on its own incredible run.
Because of the success of the football squad, the hometown paper has seen its best Web traffic day ever, its highest circulation week ever, and its best-selling Sunday paper. In addition, the Statesman has made more than $100,000 selling a BSU-themed poster and expects to rake in additional cash by selling some 4,000 reprints of two earlier editions during a team rally and parade this Saturday.
“It became bigger than any of us ever imagined,” said Vicki Gowler, editor. “We were prepared to have great coverage and I think we rose to the occasion.”
The record-breaking sales began after BSU won the New Year’s Day bowl game, beating Oklahoma, 43-42. Nationally, the game drew additional interest when Boise State used a trick “hook-and-ladder” play to tie the game and send it to overtime, then used another trick “statue of liberty” play to win.
To top off the victory, running back Ian Johnson, who scored the victorious final points, ran over to his girlfriend, a BSU cheerleader, and proposed to her on national television.
The Statesman quickly capitalized on the historic moment by tripling the single-copy press run for the next day’s Jan. 2 paper with some 30,000 newsstand copies available. The paper then printed 4,200 copies of a special four-page wrap later in the day, which also sold out.
“It included the Jan. 2 paper, but with more photos about the country’s reaction and new information with the team coming home that day,” Gowler said. “There were things we couldn’t get in the night before, particularly what the country was saying about those plays.”
Jan. 2 also marked the paper’s busiest Web day in history, with 763,000 page views, a giant leap from the usual 200,000 per day, Gowler said.
On Jan. 3, another 5,000 copies of the four-page extra were printed and sold with the regular paper, again selling out within hours, Gowler said. By the end of the week, the paper had posted its best-selling week ever, with a daily circulation average of 69,612, Gowler said.
“They were looking for any copies they could sell,” Gowler said of the paper’s circulation workers. “They were going into dumpsters to get copies and found dozens of copies that were later sold.”
In the meantime, the Statesman has been selling three special poster reprints of the Jan. 2 paper for $10 each. So far, the sales have brought in about $125,000 in revenue. “People are walking in and buying six, seven, 10 of them at once,” Gowler claims. “In the lobby and online.”
On Sunday, Jan. 7, the paper printed a special 16-page section within the regular Sunday paper. At the end of the day, another record had been broken with a circulation of 91,533, the highest for a Sunday paper.
But the Statesman wasn’t finished yet. Because of a high demand for copies of the original championship edition, production managers on Jan. 8 made the unusual move of producing 4,200 more copies of the Jan. 2 paper and making them available for sale.
During a team rally and parade set for this Saturday, which had been delayed because students were not in class two weeks ago, some 4,000 copies of both Jan. 2 publications will be sold as part of a special $2 package that includes the regular Saturday paper and special BSU team beads.
“It put us on a high,” Gowler said of the demand. “It reminded us that we can do content that matters to our readers.”