April 6, 2009

Can pay model work for 50k newspaper? Cable TV model?

The idea of paying for content online gets tossed around frequently online and at gatherings of newspaper people. But not many people take the time to put numbers in a spreadsheet. Media Cafe, with help from NAA (Newspaper Association of America), Borrell Associates, AdPerfect and Centro, does.

In this second go-around, Jeff Mignon and Nancy Wang run numbers for a newspaper with 50,000 print subscribers paying $17 a month and a web site getting 250,000 unique visitors eying 2.5 million pages. The nine scenarios include a mix of subscription prices, conversion rates of print subscribers to online and content options. There's an online spreadsheet or a downloadable one but these numbers show only three of the nine options making more revenue, one option that's close and five below current revenue.

The spreadsheet includes the cost of acquiring subscribers, but @jeffjarvis suggested on Twitter the need to calculate impact of lost Googlejuice and brand value in market.

Meanwhile, Martin Langeveld over on Nieman Journalism Lab also puts out some numbers and concludes the math doesn't add up. He suggests that forward-thinking newspapers explore weekly or twice weekly print products, an idea floated in November 2008.

I'm still leaning toward the impossibility of getting people to pay for online news even as I consider how the cable TV model might work:
"Online news services will look something like cable TV. A tiered offering...For $100 bucks a year you get access to 10 national news sites, 10 state, 10 local...for $50 you get ....5 of each...or something along that scale...."
Nothing is impossible if we all keep sharing these ideas.

1 comment:

  1. True, true. That's what has been sorely missing these past 10 years, a group sharing of ideas.

    There is a newspaper in Arkansas, I believe, that has made a success of both producing a daily newspaper and on its pay-to-play website. I'll try and get the info and send it to you.