Giving Print Subscribers Free Archive Access

The Internet has upset the apple cart for magazines just as it has for newspapers, and it’s interesting to see the divergent strategies being pursued by leading newsweeklies Time and Newsweek. Time magazine has gone to a fairly unpredictable (and often irritating) mix of open and subscriber-only content on  its Website, and is pushing instant print subscriptions with the carrot that you get unlimited access to the magazine’s archive of  270,000 articles dating back to 1923. Rival Newsweek continues to be freely available as a section on the high-traffic MSNBC site, which of course is now integrated with MSN. Time’s U.S. print circulation is 4,034,491, while Newsweek’s is 3,145,362,  according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

Prediction: More publications, including newspapers, will offer print subscribers free access to archives as an inducement to reduce churn and losses in the circulation base. This is particularly attractive to local newspapers because they can continue to sell archival content through national search engines such as Lexis-Nexis and Newsbank. Local archival
revenues are relatively small, and trading them for some degree of print stability makes sense.

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