Tuesday, September 18, 2007

'Times' slams the door on TimesSelect

As expected, The New York Times is discontinuing TimesSelect, a paid subscription service for some Times content, such as Maureen Dowd, and so forth. The Times says it will realize more revenue by making the content free and swimming in the resulting ad bucks, and so, with that admission, the subscription model online gets a little closer to death's door. I think the Internet would have been better off if more content was actually paid for—if for no other reason than, in the consumer's mind, all of the free content available cheapens the whole idea that any content has monetarily value—but on the other hand, TimesSelect never seemed like it was going to be much of a product. Not only are decisions by content providers usually arbitrary in terms of what should be free and what shouldn't—which makes it hard to determine the content's real value—but, since TimesSelect was available free to any print subscriber, the revenue base for the online product had to be small. Even if newspapers seem, at times, to be withering on the vines of the very trees used to print them, anyone so interested in the Times' premium online content was still probably a print subscriber. Lots of those people still exist, even now.

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