Friday, May 15, 2009

New York Times Considers Two Plans to Charge for Content on the Web

Can The New York Times put the cat back into the bag; that is, start charging for what was once given away free. Clearly we have been used to as consumers in getting free samples but will consumers be willing to start buying. Unlike The Wall Street Journal which has been charging a subscription fee from the start, it also has been the number one source for business news. Their unique value and brand appeal has enabled them to charge a premium to read their content. The New York Times, on the other hand, has no one specialty; some like their Business news, others their Sports, and other their Style and Editorial features. Can that broadness help or hurt them changing their business model. Will their readers stay with them and pay or go elsewhere for the news. And can the NYT keep their writers, like Mossberg and Pogue, from sharing their content outside the walled garden they might set up.

In order for The New York Times to survive, it's content can't remain free. Putting it into a subscription model of some sort will do one of two things. At the worse scenario, it drives people away from a NYT subscription and website quicker and kills brand loyalty and at the best scenario, provides web subscription to current print subscribers and incremental revenue for digital subscribers. Advertising will either decline or grow depending on what consumers choose. The New York Times provides a definitive point of view embraced both inside the tri-state and around the country. Financially, the only chance they have to future survival is a revenue model from subscription and advertising. Requiring subscription to web content might lower eyeballs in the short run but should ultimately pay off with subscription and more usage in the long run.

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