Friday, April 22, 2011

Online Pricing Craziness

A lot of talk recently about the NYTimes paywall. One of the features that is particularly offputting to people is that digital access by itself  is MORE expensive than if you buy the paper subscription AND the digital. (I subscribe to the NY Times Sunday with full free access to the online, for about $12 a month, less than the $15 to $40 it would cost to buy the online access by itself).

I recently started reading the Economist on the excellent ipad/iphone app, (which I have free full access to thanks to my paper subscription). I contacted the economist to switch to digital only and was told I'd have to pay more.

I suppose this could be price discrimination, to take advantage of early adopters, but you'd think that most digital only consumers would be more price conscious than analog customers.

The more likely scenario is that the ads are much more valuable for the print subscription than digital. And thus even if you'd prefer digital, the magazines want you to at least have the paper version, so they can count you as an advertising hit. After all, most of their revenue is from advertising. This will fall apart if enough people will do like me, and get the paper version and just throw them directly into the recycle bin.
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