The Newsday Fiasco — UPDATE

Thanks so much for “ammich’s” comment regarding the potential reason why Newsday is going to charge for online subscriptions. (See original post below.)  The theory is that an online subscription to Newsday offers a unique selling proposition, helping to differentiate Cablevision from its competition.  In other words…”Hey you, Mr. Consumer, Cablevision has got something that Verizon can’t offer — an online subscription fee for Newsweek on top of your monthly cable bill.”  Pardon the snark – I can’t help myself…

For additional insights on this, check out what Scott Greenfield has to say on the matter in his blog Simple Justice



The MediaDaily News reports this morning that Newsday is going to start charging for online readership. Apparently this is a last-ditch effort by Cablevision to generate money for the flailing paper since it took ownership last summer.

Am I crazy or hasn’t this been tried before? When the papers first went online, they all tried to make money via subscriptions, on top of ad dollars. It didn’t take long before they realized that this was a money-losing proposition. If you and I can get our news online for free, why the heck are we going to pay for Newsday’s coverage? I’m not sure how they expect to pull this off when their direct competition is offering the same “services” gratis.

The words “economic slump,” and “recession” are splattered all over the papers and fill our broadcast lines. Consumers everywhere are cutting their budgets, not adding to them. Are the Dolan’s that obtuse and out of touch? They are running a top three newspaper in the biggest city in the U.S. Aren’t they supposed to be in the know? I wonder how long it will take for Cablevision to announce they’ve decided to roll back their plans to charge online subscription fees. Anyone want to take bets?

Carpe diem

1 Comment

  • Newsday Gal
    March 5, 2009

    I think you’re misinterpreting Newsday’s move. It is not back-to-the-future desperation driving it — it’s an entirely new business model.

    Yes, newspapers tried to charge for content in the past and failed. Media watcher Ken Doctor has also criticized Newsday’s timing and strategy, saying that any paper that wants to charge has to provide a unique product, and in New York, there are too many news competitors.

    But the real story is that this is an experiment in how a cable company and a newspaper can work together to capture a market (Long Island). The benefits for Newsday’s owner, Cablevision, are potentially huge. The Newsday subscription could reinforce the loyalty of Cablevision subscribers, who can also buy high-speed Internet and telephone services as part of the cable package.

    It remains to be seen how it will work out. The benefits for Newsday are unclear. But the feeling is that Newsday employees have more job security now than they have had for a while. And that’s saying something in today’s decimated newspaper world.

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