'Washington Post' Site: No Pay Wall, Will Study Rivals


Will The Washington Post charge for access to its Web site? For now, it will sit on the sidelines as other papers try to establish a subscription model.

Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post Co., said the company will be watching how The New York Times performs as it institutes fees next year, and the Times of London succeeds with its current effort. If a paper finds a successful way to build a dual-revenue stream, the Post Co. would be interested in following suit.

"We're not going to be pioneers on those experiments, but we'll be watching everyone ... we're quite willing to be followers on this front," Graham said at a UBS investor event.

WaPo has spent a fortune building its Web properties, having realized early on the medium's importance as the traditional print business declines. Its site offers video, chats and the full print edition of the paper.



The company reported that newspaper online revenues increased 14% for the first nine months of 2010, to $77.8 million. Online classified advertising for its site dropped 1%.

Separately, Cablevision is offering free access to Newsday's Web site through Jan. 7 -- dropping its pay wall, erected in October 2009. Cablevision, in part, was looking to establish a dual-revenue stream by adding subscription revenues to ad dollars.

The site has been spiffed up and the plan is to show it off and attract more paying customers. The company has been charging $20 a month -- or $5 a week -- for access. When the site suddenly appeared free, it seemed as if Cablevision had reversed course, partly because after the tollbooth was installed last fall, Newsday.com's traffic plummeted. In September 2009 -- the last full month before the wall went up -- the site drew 1.6 million unique visitors, according to comScore. This September, it was down to 704,000.

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