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Boston Globe announces pay site/free site model

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Shifty Squid, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Curious what people think about this. I know there has been a lot of different ideas for how to monetize newspaper web sites, but it appears the Boston Globe has come up with something new.


    Basically, they're going to split their site into a free version (Boston.com), wherein readers can get sort of basic news and information about Boston, some breaking news, sports, weather, and some taste of what the newspaper provides. Then, they'll have a pay site (BostonGlobe.com) that will basically be the newspaper online, in addition to much deeper analysis, videos, audio, commentary, photos, interactive stuff, etc.

    Interesting approach that could help address the problem of maintaining advertising revenue from a free site while developing a pay site where you can monetize the actual readers.

    Think this could work?
  2. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    No, because inevitably there will be times when a major story breaks and all copy is shifted willy-nilly unto the free site to maximize clicks. Once the wall is broken, more and more content will wind up taking that same path of least resistance.
    One more thing. If the free site has the scores, you have removed much of the incentive to turn to the pay site sports coverage. But if the free site doesn't have the scores, readers will just go to free sites that do.
    Charge for access or don't charge. Probably neither one will work. But I can't believe that trying to middle the question will EVER work.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    No one will pay. Not when they area already getting basic news for free.

    It feels like they chickened out.

    At this point, it seems like if there was a solution, someone would have come upon it. I mean, how many Penn and Harvard MBAs have been drawing up feasibility studies and for how many years now?

    It seems like the only pay models that work are very specific niche reporting sites that do one thing for which there is a sizable demand and do it well: WSJ. Rivals.com. Etc., etc.
  4. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    I, on the other hand, think there's a chance.

    Yes, people will look for the scores on the free site. And yes, people will probably look for the game coverage on the free site. But people also value opinions. Why else would we discuss sports if we didn't want to know other peoples' opinions?

    If you tuck the features, the columns, the analysis - hell, maybe even the notebooks - on the inside, behind the pay wall, it's more likely to succeed because you're giving people stuff they can't (easily) find anywhere else.

    I think, of all models, it's the most likely to succeed. All free doesn't work because nobody gains from it, and all-pay doesn't work because nobody cares enough.
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    No way are people paying for opinions. Opinions are devalued in this era of democratization of information. Times Select failed for that reason.

    Every example I can think of similar to this has failed. Times Select, again, comes to mind. Also, a few years ago the Chicago Sun-Times put Bears coverage behind a pay wall. Thereby increasing the Tribune's site traffic for Bears coverage by leaps and bounds.
  6. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    I think the only way paywalls could work is a blanket antitrust exemption that would allow ALL newspapers to put their content behind a wall simultaneously. And even then, competition from ESPN, league sports sites, etc. would blow paid sports information out of the water.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, the press doesn't have the law on its side the way MLB does.

    Isn't that what the First Amendment says? "The freedom of Major League Baseball shall not be infringed"?
  8. ETN814

    ETN814 Member

    I think something like this could work in a town where there is only one paper. But not in Boston. People will just go to the Herald, ESPNBoston, WEEI, CSSNE, NESN, the ProJo and the countless other smaller news outlets that cover Boston sports.
  9. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    How is the Post-Gazette working under this model? I believe it's similar, no?
  10. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    The Globe has let it be known that all sports copy will go on the free site. Which begs the question, what's going on the pay site? The funnies?
  11. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

  12. nmmetsfan

    nmmetsfan Active Member

    In order for a pay site to work there has to be value. Without exclusivity, news loses that value. There'd better be something that someone is willing to pay for and it's generally been proven opinion pieces aren't gonna cut it.
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