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Paying for an Online Newspaper – Follow-Up

April 23, 2012

One of the most fascinating things about getting Freshly Pressed the other week was all the comments people left about the New York Times digital paywall.  They ranged from “I can’t afford the subscription fee” to “Guys?  It’s actually pretty easy to get around the page view limit” to “I happily subscribe because we need to support newspapers.”

There were a lot of people who were willing to pay for the Times even though they could have hacked it.

I wonder if it is valid to compare the New York Times’s business model to Netflix and iTunes.  I know that it’s really easy to steal movies and music over the Internet (and I don’t want to go there), but these two sites make it convenient to pay real money for them.  What are peoples’ motivations for choosing iTunes over the Pirate Bay?  I know mine is that I want to pay money for this stuff, because it’s good.

Also compare the recent phenomenon on Kickstarter.  Kickstarter is a fundraiser site that people can use to raise capital for starting creative projects.  The webcomic Order of the Stick gives away its content for free and keeps itself funded by selling merchandise.  Recently, artist Rich Burlew raised quite a lot of money on Kickstarter because fans adored his strip so much that they were dying for the chance to give him money.

Is this an anomaly?  Or is building up the goodwill of your readers the business model of the future?

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 23, 2012 8:42 AM

    I think that more people are willing to pay for things than they even realize themselves. I know I occasionally find myself staring at a Kickstarter page, or a merch page for a comic or blog thinking” Well I certainly don’t see why not.”

    I think everyone probably has their own reasons for paying.
    Does the NYT care why people are willing to pay for the online service? I don’t think they do, but those people paying care why.

    The only way to find out what your audience will pay for is to put it out there. I think creators and consumers might both be pleasantly surprised what they’re willing to pay for.

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