Online News Subscriptions Make A Comeback - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Online News Subscriptions Make A Comeback

The Financial Times becomes the latest news site to adopt a partial subscription model.

The Financial Times on Tuesday said it will begin charging subscription fees for users to access certain parts of its Web site, It's the latest move in a growing trend of online news sites adopting partial-subscription models.

Starting in May, users will be able to purchase two subscription levels, $110 or $300 per year, which will give them varying levels of access to content such as special columns, pages devoted to specific industries, and the archives of the newspaper, according to a Financial Times spokesman. "Most of the things that we'll be charging for are new things, not things that you already get for free," he says. is only the latest site to adopt such a model; in April of 2001, Webzine launched "Salon Premium," which gives subscribers access to certain news and political coverage on the site. Editors have seen more than 36,000 readers sign up in the year since. In early April, news site started offering subscriptions to ad banner-free content. And as recently as Monday, mergers and acquisitions publication said it would begin charging for access to certain parts of its site.

Online subscription models aren't a new idea. In the early days of the Web, many online news sites tried to charge for access to content. But they soon discovered that people just weren't willing to pay for a Web site. "It was a different world back then," says Patrick Hurley, senior VP of business operations for Salon. "Everything was free, there were myriad choices, and the streets were going to be paved with gold."

But today, beset by shrinking ad revenue and the need to actually post a profit, Webzines needed a way to revive the idea. Hurley says many news sites are adopting partial subscription models to subsidize their operations without alienating readers who aren't ready to commit dollars. "Users get a sense for your content and what they're missing, plus you keep some content free so the ad team can go out there and sell it," he says. Salon considers the subscription model a rousing success, he says, and credits it with keeping the Webzine alive through rough times.

"I think that there was a fear of charging for subscriptions initially," agrees the spokesman. "There was a first-mover problem. But Salon was very, very daring, and they've made it more palatable."

What would an online news site have to offer to make you willing to pay for extra content? Tell us about it in the Listening Post discussion forum.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Reflections on Tech in 2019
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  12/9/2019
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll