Friday, February 6, 2009

Wall Street Journal To New York Times, Subscription Model Does Work

According to Rupert Murdoch, there is still a subscription business, and the New York Times should follow the Wall Street Journal's lead and put its content inside a gated wall. If the old adage is true, you get what you pay for, free content only gets you so much; the good stuff has more value and should be purchased. And while the NYT generated more advertising revenue than WSJ, The added subscription stream that WSJ gets boosted their total revenue above the NYT. As the NYT is facing financial problems, following the WSJ playbook may just be a viable solution for them.

"We've already noted that the Wall Street Journal has half as much traffic as the New York Times, despite having an $80/year pay wall. Why? Because the WSJ implemented its subscription fee brilliantly: offers some content for free, and the whole site is still fully searchable by Google. Readers can access pieces of Wall Street Journal content for free all across the Internet. They can also access some free stuff on If they want to read the Wall Street Journal, though, they need to pony up, and about 1 million of them do."

Those subscribers of the Wall Street Journal recognize the unique content that comes from its pages. And today, a million online customers seem to agree. The print edition will someday go away; but these customers are already being introduced to subscribing to a digital version; brand preference and value is being maintained as distribution models change. Perhaps the NYT should heed Murdoch's message.

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