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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Newspapers Charging for Digital Content...Logical or Insane?

The mobile devices, especially the new tablets, resuscitated a suffocating print newspaper biz by creating a popular niche for them online...And ever since, powers-to-be have been splitting their mind atoms trying to figure out how to monetize the digital news online!

The Financial Times has been charging for online content for some years, Rupert Murdoch's The Daily is a subscription news rag on the iPad only that you have to subscribe to (haven't heard how successful this is yet) and now the NY Times is implementing a pay model on 28 March 2011.

First, let me say I believe all good content producers should make money.

Second, I also believe that the NET should remain free to users and that good digital content providers will (many already have) monetize through online paid advertisers.

Having said that, now let me move to point: Many newspapers have been forced online to make up for lost print ad revenue...But, from all I've read, this move has been successful and their digital ad revenues are up (and even pulled some of the print ad moolah back up due to pulling in new print subscribers from digital-savy young readers).

If I am right, and I invite opposing points of view, then why in the hell do the newspaper publishers NEED to charge online visitors a subscription fee also?

Could it be old-fashioned GREED? You damn right! At least that's how I'm reading this right now.

You see, The NY Times wants to charge $15, $20, all the way up to $35 (depending on your package) per month! Hell, Rupert only charges around $9.95 per month for his Daily.

If your opinion is otherwise and you have supporting information...convince me.

Matthew Flamm, of Crain's New York Business, has these details on the upcoming NY Times pay model:

NY Times to charge for digital content

After a couple of years of talking about charging for online content to make up for declining print advertising revenue, The New York Times Co. has finally put its pay model where its mouth is. The company's flagship newspaper announced Thursday that its new metering system and paid mobile applications will launch globally March 28. A smart phone app package was made available Thursday in Canada.

Employing a system similar to the one that has been used successfully for years by The Financial Times, NYTimes.com will allow visitors to read up to 20 articles a month without paying. Once they go over the limit, they'll be charged $15 a month for access to the website and to the New York Times' smart phone app. A $20 monthly payment buys access to the website and the paper's tablet app, while $35 is good for complete digital access.

Subscribers to the print edition will continue to have free access to all digital extensions. As of September, the paper averaged 575,000 subscribers to the daily paper, and 990,000 to the Sunday edition, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

In a bid to hold onto advertisers drawn by NYTimes.com's massive audience, visitors who arrive at the site via search, blogs and social media will not be charged either, even if they have gone over their monthly limit. Some search engines will have a daily limit of free links, however.

The long awaited announcement drew a mixed reception from analysts, with some arguing that the Times was charging too much.

“The pricing is pushing the edge of what may be possible,” said Ken Doctor, a media analyst at Outsell Inc., who added that the upward limit on digital payments was generally considered to be $9.95 a month. “It's an uphill battle to get non-print people to pay a minimum of $195 a year for something that was free.”

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