What will people pay for online? We are about to see in coming months as a range of publishers erect new pay walls, fee-based packages and tiered services. Is video one of the commodities worth paying to get? Christian Science Monitor seems to think the answer still resides where it always did, the value of the content. It has launched a freemium video product in the Monitor Breakfasts, video recordings of weekly meetings between Washington figures and journalists. But unlike other online video, full video of the Monitor Breakfasts will run $14.95 a month or $99.95 a year. Highlights of the week's meeting are available free
These unscripted exchanges have been a Washington tradition for 44 years. Recent guests include Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, Newt Gingrich and Tom Kane. The journalists are invited in on short notice to ensure the day's program is timely.
The model is a hybrid. CS Monitor says that the videos may have ad sponsorships attached as well, with pre-rolls and Web page ads on the video site. Fora.tv, which aggregates and redistributes video with a special emphasis on academic material.
The Monitor Breakfasts is not only a business model but a marketing wedge for a Christian Science Monitor news brand that famously left its daily newspaper schedule in 2008 to go to a weekly magazine and online destination. It is rebuilding its standing by finding its way into the digital news environment. By putting this video into the online newstream, the brand is wisely leveraging one of its key content assets and letting the Web amplify the effect. Well, that is if the video itself is optimized for the task.
Clearly not priced even for casual political mavens, we have to imagine that the paid video model was designed to appeal to editors and other news outlets who would understand easily the value of the Monitor Breakfasts as a rich news source. Wouldn't an a la carte tier of one-off sales been appropriate too?
This is not the only pay-to-play packaging at For a.tv. You can also find there event access and VOD for things like the World Innovation Forum ($199) or a Wired magazine business conference ($245).
With the Monitor Breakfasts it sounds as if the news provider is doing what a number of other bigger media brands will have to do in coming months if they want to make a paid model work - find their core value and build products and packages out of that. Whatever its ups and downs on various platforms, CSM has always had the respect of politicians and other media for its seriousness of purpose and thoroughness. Clearly even without a daily newspaper the company has succeeded in maintaining its insider standing in Washington D.C. and we suspect find something people will pay for.