I must admit that I’ve become a huge fan of MIT’s Technology Review during the past year. For example, I think their recent cover story, The Web is Reborn, is a must-read for managers on Internet strategy (and is a good complement to Wired’s recent The Web is Dead.)
But in addition to having great content, I really liked the thoughts that Technology Review’s editor Jason Pontin wrote in the November/December 2010 editorial outlining his thoughts on their business model (bolding mine).
We wanted to publish the different kinds of journalism we create on as many platforms as made economic sense, but it was even more important that we should follow a consistent pricing strategy across all those platforms. Last May I wrote: “Content that some readers pay for in one medium (now, usually print) should never be offered without charge to other readers in another medium (usually electronic). Instead, publishers should distribute editorial to their subscribers on a variety of platforms. This is not to say that much content should not be freely available to readers and paid for by advertising revenues.”
For Technology Review, this means that our daily news stories and blog posts–about 80 percent of the editorial we create–can be read free on all our electronic platforms. That’s been so since we started publishing daily news and opinion, and it won’t change. But starting with this November/December issue, readers on the Web must pay to read the longer magazine stories we publish less frequently, stories that subscribers to our print and digital publications have always paid to read.
You can purchase a subscription to the print or digital magazine; the latter you can read either in a Web browser or on a tablet or smart phone. All subscribers have access to current and archived magazine stories on the Web. Readers who do not care to pay for a subscription can purchase individual magazine stories or packages of stories on all our electronic platforms. On the Web, readers who don’t know if they want to subscribe will be given three free magazine stories–a kind of metered journalism.
I hope this works for them as I’ve always believed that readers should pay for content, regardless of distribution channel, as I outlined in this post about the San Jose Mercury News. As a marketer and strategist, I also agree with flexible packaging and the freemium model.