More Content Behind The Online Tollbooth

from the why-put-it-on-the-internet-at-all? dept

Mark Glaser’s latest column is looking at the LA Times’ newest experiment to put all of their entertainment content behind the paid wall. They’ve only just started, so there’s no real way to determine how successful it has been, but I still argue this is a mistake. They’re charging $5 a month for entertainment info – which is something of a commodity online. Are the LA Times’ reviews really so valuable that I would pay to read them over some other site’s reviews? Without adding any additional features and blocking off highly competitive content, the LA Times is making a mistake. These sites are not embracing what makes the internet useful, but rather are trying to shift offline business models onto the internet and then putting up artificial barriers to pretend they make sense. The value in a different medium is in embracing what makes that medium different. Pretending it’s just an electronic version of your newspaper may be easy, but it’s not a long term strategy that will work.

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Comments on “More Content Behind The Online Tollbooth”

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rax (user link) says:

To err is human

I think LA Times is trying to err on the side of protecting too much content rather than giving away too much. There is a thin line between what people will and won’t pay for. I agree that entertainment news is something that few would pay for, and that the Times is making a mistake by moving it to subscriber only.

There are a host of other entertainment news sites on the web (many of which are better than most newspapers). By limiting their content offering, LA Times is ensuring a decline in online readership, and ultimately future advertising revenue.

frankiejr (user link) says:

Re: To err is human

I only see two ways the LA Times will succeed with this online business model:

  1. Move to a Micropayment payment model.
  2. Wait until everyone else charges for thier content.

The first suggestion makes a lot of sense to me. I’m suprised it hasn’t caught on yet, and to see what’s out there is still in it’s infancy is frightening. I guess we can just hope it catches on soon.

Oh, and I don’t see #2 happening.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: To err is human

I’m just not convinced the micropayment model works. It seems to create a lot of incentive not to use a site.

Companies need to decide where they see the value in their content. Is it in attracting eyeballs for advertising or is it in having such exclusive content that it can be walled off and charged? If it’s in the advertising, then it clearly makes sense to open up the site for free. You get more eyeballs, you get more advertising.

If they want to wall it off, it absolutely has to be unique content that can’t be found elsewhere and has real value to the end user. Otherwise, any plan to charge will fail.

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