OLD Media Moves

Pay sites can work

February 19, 2009

Jack Shafer of Slate writes about the pay model for online news and information and notes that some of the most successful ventures in this area have been in business and consumer journalism.

Shafer writes, “Wildly unique and immensely useful describes the paid site ConsumerReports.org. If you’re in the market for a new sewing machine, want to outfit a home gym, or want tips on buying insurance, there’s no more comprehensive place for your queries than ConsumerReports.org. No free site on the Web compares. The site currently has 3.3 million paid subscribers: About 3 million of them pay $26 annually, and the rest pay by the month ($5.95). That’s in addition to the 4 million print copies the magazine moves each month to subscribers.”

Later, he adds, “You don’t necessarily have to control the device to succeed at selling online content. Consider the Financial Times Web site, FT.com, which had 99,000 paying customers as of last summer; the Wall Street Journal‘s WSJ.com, which counts 1,079,000 subscribers (some of whom also get the print edition); and the Journal‘s sister publication, Barron’s, which has 150,000 Web subscribers. The mother company also sells the super-premium Barron’s Daily Stock Alert — $795 for a year, right now — but doesn’t release subscription numbers for it. A combined 2.3 million subscribe to its Dow Jones Factiva and Dow Jones Newswires.”

Read more here.

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