I came across this article today on CNN Money about the NY Times charging for their content in 2011. It doesn’t surprise me that major news publications are going this route, because their print subscriptions are suffering largely, and they don’t know what to do. As a fairly serious blogger for over 4 years, my beef with the NY Times is not that they are making a business move to generate an extra source of revenue. My beef is that that reason they need to start charging for content online is because they spent the last 5 years thinking this real-time information movement on the internet was just a fad. They laughed at bloggers, and now many print journalists now work for blogs like Politico and the Huffington Post. If they would have spent time learning how to create a sustainable business model on the Internet from the beginning, they would have enough advertisement agreements on their website to subsidize the money they’re losing in reduced print subscriptions. Ok, I’m stepping off the soap box now. So, what does this mean for us?
Are You Willing To Pay For Information Online?
I don’t pay a dime for content on the internet. There is way too much free information from highly credible sources online now, and there’s no need for it. And damn, I pay $50 a month for high-speed internet. Now you’re telling me that I’m going to pay for information a la carte on the Internet? It’s really not that out of the ordinary for people to pay for information and content. We pay for digital books, MP3’s, pictures, videos, and educational materials, but very few of us pay for monthly subscriptions online. So, I agree with the CNN article about how the NY Times should approach this:
“If you are in the money business, you need breaking news to make decisions that are going to make or lose you money,” he said. “So paying for an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal is peanuts.”
But because of the New York Time’s broad coverage, the company will have to find a way to target its most loyal readers who are willing to pay for its content.
The Times will need to pick and choose carefully what they offer as premium content and free content. They should pick certain information niches to charge for like their famous editorial section, their theater and arts section, reviews, and other content that’s exclusive to their publication. If someone goes to the Times mostly for sports and world news and their meter runs out of free articles, they will just move on to the next publication that doesn’t charge them money.
This is a Slippery Slope
Darren Rowse from Problogger.com recently started a premium section, and I am sure he gets quite a few people to subscribe to it, but it’s not nearly as many readers that he has for his free stuff. Once the big boys start charging for content, it’s going to cause all of the smaller online publications to test the water on charging for content, and the Internet will suck. You’ll have website after website fail at doing the premium content thing right, and we’ll have to suffer through it and wait for them to offer it for free again, because we’re not interested.
What are you willing to pay for online? Would you pay for exclusive content from the NY Times, CNN, or Fox News? What about Politico, Tech Crunch, or Gizmodo? I want to know your opinion on this subject.