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Is this the model for newspapers charging for online content?

August 17, 2009 One Comment

I recently argued that bundling or adding value was the most likely way Rupert Murdoch would succeed in charging for his newspapers online. And now I've spotted that the Times / Sunday Times are already doing that with their Culture section (apologies if you already knew this).

Over at culture.timesplus.co.uk is Culture+, described as "an exclusive programme of arts and entertainment rewards for subscribers of The Times and The Sunday Times."

By subscribing to the paper version of the Times and getting it delivered to your door each day, you get these benefits:

  • Free, exclusive Art Fund membership giving you free entry to hundreds of charging museums, galleries and historic properties across the UK and 50% off entry to many major exhibitions. (The normal price of this is over £30.)
  • Priority booking for the most talked about plays, shows and exhibitions.
  • See the latest films first, and free.
  • Free, discounted and two for one tickets to selected shows and events.
  • Competitions & free downloads.
  • Invitations to exclusive Culture+ events.
  • Discounts from Culture+ partners.
  • Regular e-mail updates featuring cultural picks and exclusive Culture+ offers
  • A membership card for use at events, as there may be other discounts and privileges for Culture+ members

The Guardian appears to be considering something similar.

Imagine you got a similar list of benefits when subscribing to an online version of those papers. Would people pay for that?

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One Comment »

  • Mark Pack says:

    Successful members' clubs and the like have been around for a long time, so I can't see any particular reason why some newspapers shouldn't be able to run ones successfully themselves, particularly given the strong sense of affiliate to the title that some have built up amongst their readers.

    It still though is an approach that relies heavily on the newspaper having to pay for content or services which it then sells to its readers. There's also plenty of scope for newspapers to look to perform more like book publishers - providing a platform for other people's content, many of whom may be providing it for non-financial reasons and therefore willing to be paid very little, if anything. (I touched on this a bit more in http://www.markpack.org.uk/what-business-models-can-newspapers-copy-to-bring-in-more-revenue/ .)

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