Paying for Online Content

"day in the life: lunch money" by emdot on FlickrThe Miami Herald announced plans this weekend to discontinue a voluntary payment program for its online content. After evaluating response to the program, which started this past December, the newspaper had decided to end it. No monetary figures regarding the program’s success — or lack thereof — have been released, but an earlier follow-up from the paper contained this information:

The first few days of this experiment have elicited an encouraging steam of gifts, ranging from $2 to $55. They’ve also provoked an array of reactions, here and across the country, since this has drawn attention as the first effort of its kind.

Some readers say they see this as a logical step, while others have made fun of the move. Some think that including the form with stories is an awkward step, while others think we’re being too low-key about it and should come on stronger with the appeal.

The Miami Herald has no current plans to begin charging for online content, unlike The New York Times that will be implementing a metered system sometime in 2011. Last week, three top executives from The New York Times participated in a Q&A session with interviewer Staci D. Kramer, co-editor and EVP of ContentNext Media, at the paidContent 2010 conference. The namesake conference was hosted in New York City by paidContent.org, which provides coverage on the economics of digital content and is a subsidiary of ContentNext Media.

Donya Blaze of Media Bistro’s FishbowlNY blog reported:

‘What people misunderstand about the business model issue is it’s not just to figure out a pricing and metered based model, but it’s about how to figure out how to grow your advertising business,’ said Martin Neisenholtz, SVP of digital operations. ‘We intend fully to grow that ad business for as long as we need to, and that is the challenge.’

[…] President & CEO Janet Robinson reinforced the stance that the metered system will help the Times grow its ad revenue and audience. ‘The metered solution is an elegant solution providing both free and paid content. This is a way for us to continue to have a robust ad base but also have a large audience as well,’ she said.

You can view the entire paidContent 2010 Q&A session with The New York Times execs in the embedded video below. You can also read full coverage of the conference on the paidContent web site.


Source: “Herald ends payments for online content,” MiamiHerald.com, 02/20/10
Source: “Figuring a way to pay for news that’s read online,” MiamiHerald.com, 12/20/09
Source: “Video @ paidContent 2010: New York Times Execs On Metered News And More,” paidContent.org, 02/22/10
Source: “NYT Execs: Don’t Call It A Pay Wall,” FishbowlNY, 02/19/10
Image by emdot on Flickr, used under its Creative Commons license.

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  1. These people just don’t get it. When I buy a newspaper, I buy the right to share it with someone. If I have the right to share it with one person, I have the right to share it with any number of persons. Nothing will stop paying subscribers from sharing their news with people. Nothing Rupert Murdoch tries will keep people from finding a way to see any article they want from The Wall Street Journal without paying.

    Give it up! Throw in the towel! Your only chance to survive is to adopt the Google Model of making your content available for free, accompanied by ads. These companies should be making it easier, not harder, for people to access all of their content.

    As an example of how far their heads are in the sand, how could Miami Herald Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal say anything as stupid as the voluntary payment plan was “the first effort of its kind”? When Glenn Fleishman tried added a voluntary $25/year payment to his Internet Marketing Discussion List back in 1995, fewer than five people donated out of thousands of subscribers. It’s been tried a thousand times, Anders, and like the others, you’ve learned it just doesn’t add up.