Not What The New York Times Co. Wants In The News Just Before Its Annual Meeting

Posted by: Jon Fine on April 20, 2007

(from the ever-firewalled Wall Street Journal, emphasis added)

Amid a declining market for print advertising, publishers have increasingly pointed to the growth in their online ad revenues. But New York Times noted yesterday that Internet advertising was growing more slowly “across the industry,” which it attributed at least partly to a slowdown generally in Web advertising.

Remember that online growth is the one decent story the Times Co. has to tell these days—and, judging from the news, that story just got a whole lot less good:

While online advertising continues to grow at a rapid pace, newspaper sites are facing increased competition from a proliferation of Web sites developed by traditional media outlets and other businesses. As a result, the company said revenue growth from its Internet properties would be lower than the 30% originally forecast this year.

Now I’m only waiting for Mickey Kaus to pivot from this into a comment savaging TimesSelect. But I disagree in advance! For whatever conceptual problems I have with TimesSelect’s lockdown of the Times’ columnists, it doesn’t hurt ad revenue longterm. (UPDATE: Kaus appears to take my use of the word “genius” in the following sentence as serious, rather than tongue-in-cheek. Accordingly, please put finger-quotes around that word when you get to it, since apparently my raised-eyebrow didn’t translate properly.)

The genius of TimesSelect—if I may apply that term—is that it puts a pay wall around the kind of content least likely to be desired by advertisers. There aren’t many advertisers clambering over each other to end up next to one of Nicholas Kristoff’s graphic columns about Sudan, or one of Paul Krugman’s more unrestrained rants. (Credit where it’s due: if I recall correctly, I am stealing this last notion from Seth Mnookin. Thanks, Seth.)

That said: I still don’t think it’s worth $11 million, tops (scroll down), in subscriber revenue for the Times to keep its columnists locked away.

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Reader Comments

Hey

April 20, 2007 03:43 PM

Hassan:

A great take on Times Select, innovative yet still negative. Thanks for adding something that I hadn't thought of as to the NYT strategy.

Dan Friedman

April 23, 2007 09:20 AM

TimesSelect was certainly an important achievement for The Times, one I agree could help them in the long run. It severely limited exposure of the deep thoughts of Dowd, Krugman, Herbert and Friedman.

As to the "firewall" at the WSJ. It's not a "firewall," it's site you have to pay for to gain access - something journalists are unfamiliar with - whether it be a bar tab or a news junket.

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The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.

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