My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wall Street Journal 'nearly doubles' audience

The Wall Street Journal is one of the few newspapers to keep some of its content behind a paywall online (meaning you have to subscribe to read some of the stories).

This policy bucks the trend of recent years to offer everything free online for fear that your readers will just go elsewhere if you don't. A fair policy given that daily news outlets have relatively few points of difference from one another and there's no scarcity of news online.

The WSJ has rather more points of difference, however, and it seems to be doing just fine. According to a report posted by Editor& Publisher, in the last year the WSJ has nearly doubled its user-base, with a 94% increase since June 2007. The site now reaches 16.2 million users.

"The site offers a mix of free and paid content. The Journal's breaking-news alerts and personal-finance, opinion and lifestyle content, as well as videos, blogs, podcasts and other interactive elements are all available free.

"Even with a fee - print subscribers pay $49 a year for a web subscription - WSJ Online attracts more than one million subscribers and 10 million monthly unique visitors.

"In 2007, generated about $60 million in subscription revenue. To put this in perspective, making up that revenue in ad sales would require to increase traffic by more than 20 million unique monthly visitors."


Chris St Cartmail said...

The WSJ will end up a free site sooner or later. However, Mr Murdoch was right in abandoning - I should say postponing - plans to turn it free earlier this year. It's a cash cow with a legacy income stream larger than any ad revenue can match - for now. Who's going to risk guaranteed bucks in a recession? The conspicuous statistic missing from the piece you quote is how much of the increase in page views and users come from its paid subscriber base. I'll bet not a lot. I'll also bet the subscription base hasn't grown and has probably shrunk.

Julie Starr said...

Last time I read something about the subscription base it had grown, but that was a while ago.

I take your point about which eyeballs account for those 10m uniques. I'd say you're right about them belonging to casual visitors.

Not so sure about it going entirely free. You may be right, but I think there could ultimately be a market for subscription value-added news products - personalised, smartly packaged and delivered, in a way you couldn't do yourself. (emphasis on delivery, rather than sites you have to visit)

I sometimes wonder too if there isn't a bit of the 'because it's expensive it must be good and therefore I must have it' phenomenon at work with the WSJ.