Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Delicious Today: business models

#1: Newspapers find a new way to monetize their journalists
"It’s the first time that Times columnists have participated in the newspaper’s three-year-old Knowledge Network, an adult-education program operated in partnership with local universities. ... They’re offering weeklong, largely online courses for Times readers who pay between $125 and $185."
#2: New York Times to decide how to charge for its website by August
NYT "is deciding between two charging systems – a 'metered' and a 'membership' model. ... The metered model, as the Financial Times uses, gives access without a charge for a certain number of page views. The so-called 'membership model' includes a collection of different privileges and services not available to the non-paying reader."
#3: The New York Times Describes Online 'Membership' Plans
"The Times was gauging interest in two premium packages that it calls NYT Gold and NYT Silver. ... The packages carry an annual cost of $150 and $50, respectively, and emphasize behind-the-scenes benefits like newsroom tours, exclusive videos of reporters. ... In this, the new packages repeat the core mistake of the Times' last, abortive effort at premium online content, the TimesSelect opinion section: Assuming people are fascinated with the Times as a brand, and with the deep thinking of its insiders. Really, most Web readers just like the news."
So the New York Times is debating whether to adopt the metered model or membership model. Actually they can do both, each one targeting a different reader group. It's interesting to read their proposed membership benefits. Differing only in degrees but not types, both packages offer a mixture of economic benefits and relationship benefits, which may not be the smartest way to attract members. Social psychologists have found that people interact with another party either because the other party can offer them something, or because the other party is part of their social relationship, part of who they are. The economic benefits in the packages (discounts, convenience) will appeal to readers who see NYT no more than a news-seller, their interaction with NYT no more than a business transaction. They won't be interested in those relationship benefits in the packages (newsroom tour, talking to reporters). But readers who view NYT as a trusted friend will. So if I were to design the membership, I would offer two different types of packages: Gold targets transaction-focused readers, and Diamond relationship-focused readers.

NYT Gold ($365 annual fee):
  • Free subscription to (A) Kindle version of all newspapers under NYT (NYT, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune). The regular price for the three Kindle papers is $407.64 per year; or (B) daily delivery of NYT print paper + Kindle version of Boston Globe and IHT. The regular price of NYT home delivery is $384.8 per year. The regular price of the two Kindle papers is $239.76.
  • TimesMachine: free access to all NYT archive (already in NYT proposal)
  • TimesWire: real-time news alerts (already in NYT proposal)
NYT Diamond ($365 annual fee)
  • Free subscription to (A) Kindle version of NYT + a gift subscription to a friend or family. The regular price is $167.88 x 2 = $335.76 per year; or (B) daily delivery of NYT print paper. The regular price of NYT home delivery is $384.8 per year.
  • $100 credit that can be used for NYT store merchandise, TimesEvents tickets, TimesTalk tickets
  • TimesInsider: free newsroom tour, etc
#4: Open for Business: If you want readers to buy news, what exactly will you sell? The case for a free/paid hybrid
"At its base are the many visitors to CQPolitics who pay nothing but who do deliver eyeballs. At the top are those so ravenous for particular slices of news they can use that they will pay $10,000 or more a year for access. In other words, CQ sells various products for various media to audiences who differ not by geography or income but by need. It was doing so well before analysts like Wang and Mignon began preaching the virtues of the “hybrid” model to their sometimes-reluctant clients."

"General news has long been predicated on the idea that people’s primary interest in news was defined by where they lived. But that was never completely so. ... But now, The Washington Post, for one, has begun to embrace the idea of defining itself not as the newspaper of Washington, the physical entity, but as Washington, the idea—just as The Wall Street Journal ... is not about Wall Street, a district in lower Manhattan. ... Once a news organization sees itself as something more than in service of a place, it puts itself in a position to tap into one of the emotional imperatives that sustain the niche sites. ... Journalism’s crisis offers an opportunity to transform the everyday work of journalism from a reactive and money-losing proposition into a more selective enterprise of reporting things that no one else knows."
This is a long but thoughtful article. The key is to find a sustainable niche area that readers are willing to pay for.

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