A proposal for a subscription model
Posted Jul 26, 2002 22:22 UTC (Fri) by jerome
Parent article: On the future of LWN
Dear LWN editors,
Another quality news site has gone through similar problems... Gamespot. Now, granted, Gamespot is part of CNet and therefore has a lot of capital. But they still have to make a profit. As of a few months ago, they have adopted a controversial yet innovative and intelligent subscription service, which you should consider.
Here is how it now works at Gamespot: by default, visitors have access to Gamespot Basic. That includes recent (up to a week old, I believe) articles and some media (a few screenshots per game, for example). The members-only Gamespot Complete adds access to all archives and more extensive, bandwidth-consuming media like movies.
So you get access to the site for free, but there are significant advantages to being a member. You can read all reviews if you follow the site closely and therefore decide whether or not you like their journalism. But if you decide now that you want to read their full review of Neverwinter nights, you'll have to become a member.
I believe that this is a balanced approach that LWN should consider. You could allow free access to all new content, even the editorials that appear over the week. That way those who follow you closely would still have access to everything. Then, after some time, it would be archived and become unvailable to non-members.
I would go one step further. Since your weekly content now appears in the daily updates, the weekly edition is more of a convenience than a necessity for your readers. I would make the weekly edition a members-only area. This alone would make membership very appealing to all who have been reading you for the last few years.
You could also have special offers for corporate clients. Many people in the Linux business have to read your publication on a weekly basis because their boss wants everyone to be up-to-date. You could offer corporation-wide memberships. You might even manage to sell such a subscription to some libraries.
And note that you can do this and still collect donations from time to time. You could even put an option on the registration page that says "Add a $25/$50/$75 donation to this transaction." You can still sell ads. You can still do whatever you need to do to get necessary funding.
Thanks, and good luck.
PS: I wish to thank you for all the work you have done over the years. Your publication was excellent by any measure, and definitely the best in the GNU/Linux scene. I hope you can keep it up and wish you the best of luck should it prove impossible.
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