On the News Corp conference call last night, Murdoch hammered home our point about why the New York Times (NYT) should charge an online subscription fee.
Murdoch noted that the Wall Street Journal, which charges a subscription fee, generated $120 million of online ad revenue last year. The New York Times, which doesn’t charge, only generated about $150-$175 million (our estimate).
Combining the two fees, the Wall Street Journal is the larger online business. It also doesn’t have to slash its ad prices because it has a huge glut of online inventory, the way the New York Times does. It is more insulated from ad depressions like the one we’re enduring. And it has a valuable paid relationship with a million subscribers who it may be able to sell additional services to.
Again, we are NOT recommending that the New York Times block all access to all its content. We are recommending a hybrid strategy, like the Wall Street Journal’s.
We’ve already noted that the Wall Street Journal has half as much traffic as the New York Times, despite having an $80/year pay wall. Why? Because the WSJ implemented its subscription fee brilliantly: WSJ.com offers some content for free, and the whole site is still fully searchable by Google. Readers can access pieces of Wall Street Journal content for free all across the Internet. They can also access some free stuff on WSJ.com. If they want to read the Wall Street Journal, though, they need to pony up, and about 1 million of them do.
For more detail on why the New York Times should charge, see Our Plan To Save The New York Times