MediaFile

Boston Globe sets pricing for new website

Another one of the New York Times Co’s newspaper properties is preparing to officially roll out a pay model for its website.  The Boston Globe launched  bostonglobe.com and starting Oct. 1 it will charge $3.99 per week for a digital-only subscription (print subscribers can read the site for free).  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage New England is sponsoring a free trial subscription through Sept. 30. Unlike its sister site NYTimes.com, a subscription for bostonglobe.com is required to access all content.

The flagship New York Times rolled out in March a pay model for its digital products allowing readers to access up to 20 articles per month for free. After hitting that limit, a reader must shell out for a digital subscription to read more, anywhere from about $15 to $35 a month depending on the package. Print subscribers get free access to the site, mobile and smartphone apps.

The experiment is a being closely watched in the U.S. newspaper industry as a guidepost to see if general interest newspapers can successfully charge for digital content. The early data seems encouraging: As of the New York Times’ last earnings report in July, the company said that the NYTimes.com had 224,000 digital subscribers.

The Boston Globe is taking a slightly different path, though, with the launch of bostonglobe.com, which complements boston.com — one of the earliest and one of the most successful newspaper sites in this country. Boston.com will continue to be completely free, featuring breaking news, local deals, and listings for area restaurants, music venues, clubs, etc. Meanwhile, bostonglobe.com highlights content from the print edition and will include videos, photo galleries, breaking news and other features like online chats and access to the archives.

“We recognize that readers of boston.com are going there for different reasons: to find out what’s happening in the news and to find out what’s going on around town,” said Christopher M. Mayer, the publisher of the Boston Globe in an interview. “The Boston Globe never had its own digital front door.”

With Apple, Microsoft ahead, this is no time for vacation

Get ready for another big week of earnings, with Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo the highlights (at least in our world).

Interestingly, talk about both Microsoft and Apple has been pretty positive ahead of their quarterly results, despite the rancid economy. When it comes to Apple, whose stock has been among the best performers in tech this year, the chatter is about the new iPhone, which it launched in June to big fanfare.

“I think the key is that core consumer demand is there,” Hudson Square Research analyst Daniel Ernst said in a recent Reuters story. “There are lines for $400 phones. Clearly they’re well positioned, and when the PC market comes back, we believe they’re going to take significant share.”

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Amazon Patents Detail Kindle Advertising Model (Mediapost)
Laurie Sullivan writes: “The patents clearly note that Amazon would insert advertisements throughout the ebooks, from the beginning to the end, between chapters or following every 10 pages, as well as in the margins.”

> In-Book Ads Coming to the Amazon Kindle? (Fast Company)
> 6 Reasons Why Ads On The Kindle Don’t Work (Business Insider)

Deadline for Globe bids postponed (Boston Globe)
“The New York Times Co. has postponed tomorrow’s deadline for prospective buyers of The Boston Globe to submit preliminary bids for the newspaper, people briefed on the sales process said. No new date has been set for the bids,” writes Robert Weisman.

NBC Universal’s Zucker: Olympics still a winner

News broke this week that Anheuser-Busch has told NBC that the brewer will spend only about half as much on advertising packages during the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and 2012 Summer Games in London, compared to previous years.

Over at 30 Rock, they aren’t too worried about it. NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker, who won wide praise for the company’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics, feels that there are plenty of advertisers ready to step in and replace any company that wants or needs to cut their spending on the sporting event.

When we asked Zucker about the Anheuser-Busch situation, he said, “The interest in the Olympics — because it’s such a unique event — has been extraordinary. Where certain companies decide it doesn’t work for them anymore, it provides an opportunity for their competitors to come in. That works out just fine for us.”

Look out: US online advertising seen down 5 percent

From the bearish forecast department: Screen Digest, a media research firm, issued an outlook today predicting a 5 percent decline in online advertising in 2009. Folks, we’re not talking about newspapers or network television or radio here. We’re talking about the Web.

Screen Digest put out the forecast in response to the IAB’s recent report on 2008, which showed Web advertising rose 10 percent. But the number that turned heads over at Screen Digest was IAB’s fourth quarter figure, which put online growth at a mere 2.6 percent.

Here’s what Screen Digest says:

Following the fourth quarter 2008 tipping-point, Screen Digest has revised its 2009-2010 forecasts for online advertising in the US. We now predict that all categories and subcategories except video will decline in 2009. Banner advertising (-8.8 per cent) will not be fully compensated by the double digit growth of online video, so that the Display category will be down 3.6 per cent. Search will shrink by two per cent and non-Display categories such as Classifieds will experience double digit falls. Overall, the total internet advertising market will shrink by five per cent (-4.8) in 2009 and only stabilize (+0.4 per cent) in 2010.

Newspaper ad sales down? Fire ad staff!

The Boston Globe, the revenue-challenged sibling of The New York Times, is laying off employees as it copes with a decline in advertising revenue made only worse by the recession. The thing is, it’s laying off advertising staff.

From the Globe:

The Boston Globe said yesterday it reduced by half the sales force that takes classified advertising over the telephone. Thirty classified employees, including two managers and 13 part-time employees, lost jobs. In addition, the positions of two other advertising managers were eliminated, said Robert Powers, the Globe’s spokesman.

The reason? There are fewer classified ads coming in because everyone does it for free at Craigslist and other free classified sites. Some papers have lost more than half of their classies.

Could Slim be a bad harbinger for New York Times dissidents?

Mexican billionaire and telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim is poised to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at The New York Times Co so the newspaper publisher can buy some more time to get its act together as advertising revenue falls and debt looms. If he is truly an ally of the Times, as our sources say, it could prove bad news for dissident investors like Harbinger Capital Partners who are pressing for drastic changes at the Times.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story on Saturday night, closely followed by Reuters. It was The New York Times itself (surprise!) that reported the specifics of Slim’s “bailout package” for the Times:

    A $250 million investment in exchange for 10-year notes with warrants that are convertible into common shares. A special annual dividend would go to Slim — maybe 10 percent or more of his investment. No voting rights, no board seat. With his 6.4 percent stake in the Times’s common shares, this could make him the largest Times shareholder, bigger even than the Ochs-Sulzberger family that has controlled the times since 1896.

The value of Slim’s previous investment already has fallen, but if he is treating the Times more as a philanthropic exercise than a business decision, this could work out well for both parties.

Buy The Boston Globe? That’s so 2006

jack-welch.jpgOne of the top parlor games among undertakers reporters covering the newspaper business is figuring out who would buy The Boston Globe if The New York Times Co ever decided to sell it.

That game might get harder to play, now that the top candidate is out of the running. Here is the Globe’s competitor, the Boston Herald, with the scoop (see the second item):

A group of Boston businessmen that included Connors and former GE chief Jack Welch had “expressed interest” in negotiating with the New York Times Co. to buy the Globe. Welch and Connors were willing to pay between $500 and $600 million, but the Times wasn’t interested.