Thursday, March 30, 2006

Content behind walls

Click here for an interesting take on the debate about putting content behind paid-only walls. While immediate income may rise, reach and influence will certainly wane. I'm inclined to think that only rarely will the content in question survive that equation, but others disagree. NYT columnist Thomas Friedman acknowledges that he mourns the loss of audience, but knows somebody has to figure out how to finance his $8,000 tickets to Mumbai. (I guess he flies first class).

An ominous sign for the paid-subscription model: the celebrated WSJ Online service grew only modestly -- from 712,000 to 731,000 subscribers -- in recent months.

The basic argument in favor the walled garden, from NYT Publisher Arthur Sulzberger:
... Sulzberger told me that, "If you were to take the number of people who have signed up for TimesSelect, it is the third largest paper we own, after the Times and the Boston Globe. Now many of those are people who are home subscribers to the paper. But many of these people pay for it uniquely, and if you were to take just them, they are our fourth largest paper, behind the International Herald Tribune."

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