How Many People Are Paying For Newsday.com? Try 35.
$4 million site redesign netting just $9,000 in new revenue...
After buying Long Island paper Newsday
for $650 million in 2008, Cablevision last year announced they were going to place the paper's website behind a paywall
, apparently in an effort to save it from failing. According to the New York Observer
however, that plan doesn't appear to be going particularly well. While such plans may work for industry legends like the New York Times
or the Wall Street Journal
(and even that's debated), Cablevision's offer apparently wasn't particularly appealing, given only 35 subscribers
agreed to pay the $5 a week, or $260 a year entry fee:
That astoundingly low figure was revealed in a newsroom-wide meeting last week by publisher Terry Jimenez when a reporter asked how many people had signed up for the site. Mr. Jimenez didn't know the number off the top of his head, so he asked a deputy sitting near him. He replied 35.
Michael Amon, a social services reporter, asked for clarification. "I heard you say 35 people," he said, from Newsday's auditorium in Melville. "Is that number correct?" Mr. Jimenez nodded.
site redesign cost the Dolans $4 million, though those 35 subscribers only generated $9,000 in new revenue. Of course part of Cablevision's plan was to give Newsday access away for free to Cablevision customers as a competitive bonus. They're also giving site access away for free to subscribers of the physical paper, so there's certainly more online readers than the abysmal paid subsriber total suggests. Still, Newsday unique hits dropped from 2.2 million to 1.5 million from October to December, and insiders at the paper tell the Observer
most people in the newsroom think the website "sucks" and is an "abomination." "We're the freebie newsletter that comes with your HBO," jokes one reporter.