Friday, February 27, 2009

Bad News For Out Of Market Mets Fans: Newsday to begin charging for online content

It's ironic that this news should break today. I was just telling my co-workers that ever since I moved from Long Island four years ago, I've continued to get my news from Newsday online, primarily because of their Mets baseball coverage, but also as a one-stop-shop for all other news topics. This has had the tangential effect of meaning I never know what's going on in my local area (Greensboro and now central Jersey), but I've continued to be updated on things like transit strikes in NYC or Trump's negotaitions to put a restaurant/catering hall/megaplex at Jones Beach.

"When we purchased Newsday, we were aware of the long-term issues facing the traditional newspaper industry," Rutledge told analysts Thursday. "We plan to end the distribution of free Web content and make our newsgathering capabilities a service to our customers."

If you're an out of market Mets fan, other than, checking has been a great way to stay connected to the Mets news of the day. We can debate all day long whether this is a good business decision for Newsday, risking their 67 million monthly page views, but it's undeniable that this is bad news for us fans. Newsday's Mets coverage is damn good. But there is not a chance in the world that I would pay to read the newspaper online. With the proliferation of blogs, and numerous other sources, the news is just far too accessible for me to feel the need to pay for Newsday.

You might ask why it's OK to pay for a physical newspaper but silly to pay for online content. Well, historically the business model for newspapers has been simple. Charge for the paper to cover the large expense of printing and distributing a daily newspaper, but all of the profits come from advertising. The overhead on a website is much, much, less. Newsday shoudl be able to figure out how to make money on advertising. At this point they shoudl have a very, very good idea of the demographics of the people who are reading their online content, even more so than their newspaper audience. They should have no trouble selling this to advertisers. Some "expert" over at Cablevision (owner of Newsday) must think they can make more money charging a subscription fee for their content, but I think their doomed for failure here. Unlike with cable model, where they until recently had a monopoly on paid television service, as I said earlier there is just too much news content widely available for this to work.

So, out of market Mets fans, enjoy Anthony Rieber's and Ken Davidoff's and Neil Best's, and even Wallace Matthews' columns while you can. Newsday is going to try and see how much you'll pay for what you used to get for free.


Chris said...

That's really too bad. As a transplanted out in Portland, OR, I really enjoy Newsday's stuff.
And great Petty line to end the post.

Mike V said...

Thanks for catching the reference, Chris.

I've been thinking a lot about this since I posted. Maybe I shouldn't rush to judgement until we hear what they intend to charge?

Or maybe it's the whole media consolidation (Cablevision charging for internet service and then to read the coverage ( about entities it also owns (Knicks/Rangers)) that's really so troubling.

In any case, there was a nice back and forth between Neil Best and his readers on Neil Best's Watchdog blog. Food for thought, if nothing else.