The Times builds its paid-for strategy on three key factors. Of these three factors, the uniqueness of content remains the most potent one. The New York Times has no equivalent in the world when it comes to great journalism, period. More than any other newspaper in the world, the NYT has a huge base of loyal users.
With the inflation of aggregators and of social reading habits, the natural replication of information has turned into an overwhelming flood. Then, the production of specific content — and its protection — becomes a key element in building value.
Pando have decided to erect a paywall. I guess we’ll find out how many people are willing to pay for undifferentiated opinion in a heavily over-provided news space (startup-centric tech), huh? Having spent over a decade working with paywalled business, both successful and unsuccessful, it’s pretty clear that people will pay for news they can use – and not undifferentiated news and opinion. My experience of reading Pando is that they have the latter not the former.
(1) Both Frédéric Filloux and Adam Tinworth agree on the same requirement for charging for content, but use different phrases: Frédéric talks about “uniqueness of content”, and Adam “differentiated news and opinion”.
(2) I suspect that many content entrepreneurs overestimate the degree to which their content is unique. What many content entrepreneurs see as differentiation in subject matter and style is often indistinguishable to readers. Perhaps this is the core of Adam Tinworth’s criticism of Pando.
(3) Note Adam’s addition that “people will pay for news they can use”. See: The content business: Entertainment, or helping users make decisions?
(4) What are the implications for Seeking Alpha’s subscription businesses, PRO and Marketplace? (a) Seeking Alpha’s content is unique and differentiated (for example, Seeking Alpha is now the only venue for meaningful analysis of many small cap stocks), and (b) high quality analysis of stocks is intrinsically valuable.
(5) Our challenge is to ensure our paid content is unique and differentiated versus what we give away for free. Yesterday I met a hedge fund manager who said “I use Seeking Alpha regularly, and it’s free. Thank you!”