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Old 03-14-2005, 11:27 AM   #1
Chaos
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Will online newspapers stay free?

The New York Times has an article on if online newspapers can stay free (somewhat ironically, free registration required). It's an interesting read, especially how free online papers has caused a loss of actual paper subscriptions.

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The New York Times on the Web, which is owned by The New York Times Company, has been considering charging for years and is expected to make an announcement soon about its plans. In January, The Times's Web site had 1.4 million unique daily visitors. Its daily print circulation averaged 1,124,000 in 2004, down from its peak daily circulation of 1,176,000 in 1993.
So, how much would you be willing to pay for reading the news online? And I wonder if this will include the mobile version, which currently doesn't even require registration (which is nice if you want to avoid that registration )?
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Old 03-14-2005, 12:44 PM   #2
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Depends. If I had to pay for all online content, I would probably reduce my sources to two or three. I am currently subscribed to WSJ and The Economist. NYT wouldn't be my third choice if I had to.

At the Economist, the mobile version of the printed edition is included in the online subscription.

Someone at Slashdot gave a good list of what news sites can do to fund their content:
  1. Ad-Supported Model: Consumers get the content for free as long as they are willing to watch & click-through enough ads. Sucks because people hate/block/avoid ads (insufficient revenues), although Google might make this work.
  2. BBC Model: An annual government tax on PCs is used to fund a quasi-independent news gathering organization. Sucks because it adds a tax, will never happen in the U.S. (due to freedom of the press and government non-compete issues), but it could happen in the UK.
  3. a la Carte Model: Every content creator charges their own subcription. Sucks if you want to read more than one source.
  4. Flat-Rate Integrator Model: A subscriber pays a monthly subscription for all the news/content aggregated by a given company (AOL, Yahoo, Google?). Sucks because snooty brand-conscious content providers (NYT, WSJ, etc.) will never join an aggregator -- they will prefer to force people to pay separate subscriptions for separate content sources.
  5. Micopayment Model: A subscriber pays-per-view, the charge showing up on their monthly ISP/cellphone/credit card bill. Sucks because the cost of admin and dealing with disputed charges wipes out most of the revenues. Sucks because people hate being nickled and dimed to death.
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Old 03-14-2005, 06:53 PM   #3
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I suppose out of the specific models mentioned by Doctorow the aggregator would be the best bang for the buck. I like the idea of paying one fee and having access to several sources.

I have no problem paying for content that I feel is worthy but if every site I accessed regularly began charging I'd have to pare down my surfing quite a bit. Which probably wouldn't be a bad thing now that I think about it :-).
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Old 03-14-2005, 08:12 PM   #4
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Pda versions or online versions need to be significantly cheaper then printed versions for me to pay for them. Then again maybe I won't pay...there will be sources for free versions.
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Old 03-15-2005, 11:25 AM   #5
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I believe this is NYT's way of trying to get feedback for its planned subscription model. Already, NYT has added a link to subscribe to its online paper for some weeks now, that link has changed to something like $12.95/8 weeks today. So I expect that a bigger part of its website will be pay only soon, just hope that not enough people sign up that will force it to revert to the free model.

The Register tried to charge for its mobile edition but was probably not successful enough, that they revert it back to free last week.
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Old 03-15-2005, 12:28 PM   #6
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I wouldn't mind paying for my favorite online newspapers, if the price I had to pay was considerably below the price of the print edition.

@gadgetguru: THANK YOU for the reminder that The Register Mobile is now free. I am going to post about it in the New Links section.
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Old 03-16-2005, 05:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos
So, how much would you be willing to pay for reading the news online? And I wonder if this will include the mobile version, which currently doesn't even require registration (which is nice if you want to avoid that registration )?
Hello,

strangely enough three other articles -one from cnet, one from the french daily Libération, one from Le Monde- spoke about the same subject (the end of the print on paper press, the rise of free newspapers, the rise in reading news online) in rather different tones
-> http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,...-401551,0.html
-> http://news.com.com/Can+papers+end+t...3-5614350.html
-> http://www.liberation.fr/page.php?Article=282248


As for me (if you ask ), I think people -more and more of them- are now ready to pay for content on the internet - both music and news-.

I pay for such things as Live365 because they offer a quality service I don't find -free- anywhere else.
I've subscribed to Salon (even though I was able to read them for free) because once again I think the'yre worth it.
I'm a subscriber of Le Monde electronic edition wich offers both the pdf and html print edition, and "free" access to the archives.
It's a 5€/month subscription.
I would be ready to subscribe the same way to the NYT for the same services for a similar low price.
(or for Slate)

Sometimes I don't mind the ads -in AvantGo for instance- sometimes I'm ready to pay a small fee to get good content without ads, and additional services....
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