Everyone in the media industry is going to be interested in today's New York Times earnings report that features a 6.5 percent increase in circulation revenues, reflecting an important success of the company's paywall strategy. At the same time, print advertising revenue declined 13.3 percent and digital ad revenue fell 4.0 percent. That means that overall earnings per share fell from $0.05 to $0.04 at the company as the shrinking elements continue to shrink faster than the growing elements grow.
I've been skeptical about digital subscription models for a long time, but I'm turning into a believer. A key change has been the development of technological means of making the paywalls actually pretty porous, which turns them into more a form of price discrimination than anything else. A well-designed paywall attracts revenue from hardcore fans of a website while still making it possible for casual fans to read the occasional article and thrifty people to sneak around it. The Times Company is announcing a "New Strategy for Growth" today that seems largely focused on developing finer-grained forms of price discrimination, such as making it possible to buy a cheap subscription to just a sub-set of the overall NYT content. It's a promising idea. The challenge with this sort of thing is to try to create a seamless user experience, so that despite your complicated walls and loopholes and discrimination tools people feel well-tretaed.
TODAY IN SLATE
Ben Bradlee Dead at 93
The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.
This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again
I’m 25. I Have $250.03.
My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.