Journalism Online says 506 publications have signed letters of intent to become affiliates

Press release

Journalism Online Passes 500 Newspapers, 90 Million Online Visitors in Initial Publisher Agreements

Targets $50-100 Annual Payments for 10% of Each Site’s Monthly Visitors

New York, August 13, 2009 — Journalism Online, LLC, the company formed in April to provide technology and marketing support that enables publishers to charge for select web site access and digital content, announced today that publishers representing 506 newspapers and magazines (176 dailies and 330 non-dailies) as well as publishers of leading global news sites have signed letters of intent to become its affiliates. The web sites of these publishers have more than 90 million monthly visitors from around the world. Consumers will be able to use one universal Journalism Online account to gain access to subscriber content at the web sites of all its affiliates.

Affiliates will select their own approach to offering paid access, based on their respective brands, content and online readership. Each affiliate will also make its own announcements concerning the packages they plan to offer through Journalism Online once they have completed a modeling and analysis process in consultation with Journalism Online to determine their offerings. “By creating a platform of flexible hybrid models for paid content that maximizes online advertising revenue while creating a new revenue stream from readers, Journalism Online has helped shift the debate over charging for online news from ‘if’ to ‘when and how,’” said Journalism Online co-founder Steven Brill. “And now large numbers of publishers have moved past that abstract debate and are rolling up their sleeves to figure out with us exactly what kind of package is right for them.”

Journalism Online also said that the models it is presenting to these publishers have initially yielded annual revenue targets per-subscriber of $50 to $100, from the most engaged 10% of their websites’ online visitors, with little diminution of overall page views or online ad revenue. Thus, a website with one million monthly online visitors could over time expect to earn new revenues of $5-10 million; one with five million online visitors could expect new revenues of $25-50 million.

“Every publisher we have met with is now seeking to generate revenues for online access, which is a huge shift in strategy,” said co-founder Gordon Crovitz, who for over a decade ran the Wall Street Journal Online as it became the largest subscription news site on the Web. “The interest shown by our affiliates and many other publishers with whom we are intensely engaged confirms the need for a sophisticated commerce platform to meet the challenges facing the media industry.”

Beginning this fall, Journalism Online will provide affiliates multiple services to generate consumer revenues online, including a payment platform designed specifically for publishers and their online readers. This Reader Revenue Platform (TM) enables publishers to test and continually adjust a broad variety of offerings while allowing customers the convenience of having one account to access content across multiple web sites and other electronic platforms. The publishers will be able to offer consumers a calibrated selection of content, using some 16 payment options customized for publishers.

“As we continue to engage with and sign affiliates, we are helping create viable models for these publishers so that they can maintain ad revenue online while adding a vital, new second stream of circulation revenue,” Brill said. “All decisions with respect to how to charge, what to charge, whom to charge, or how and whether to bundle print, online and e-reader subscriptions will be left to each publisher. They could make any number of decisions, including deciding not to do anything once they consider all of the options we develop for them. We’re giving them all the dials to turn, and we’ll even provide dispatches from the field on what is working best across the globe at other affiliates’ websites, but they will be the ones turning the dials,” Brill added.

“To accommodate publishers who for competitive reasons did not want to be part of a group announcement and others who expressed a preference to announce their plans directly to their readers once they determine the packages they will offer, as well as to avoid even the appearance that publishers are acting in unison, affiliates will make their own announcements about their approach to paid access,” Brill explained.

Online readers will able to create a single account through Journalism Online that will authorize them to access multiple web sites, blogs and other digital media, making it simple and convenient for them to add access to new brands.

“Although it is difficult to generalize because every publisher offers value to readers in a different way, what we have seen across the spectrum of these affiliates is that each can likely create an offering that is distinctive and will appeal to the segment of its online audience that reads them most regularly,” Crovitz explained. “This ‘freemium’ approach results in some five to fifteen percent of the online readers becoming subscribers paying on average $50-100 dollars a year, although some will charge more and others less. These averages will also vary based on each publisher’s mix of monthly and annual subscriptions and micropayments, for print publishers discounts for bundled print and online subscriptions as well as sales through Journalism Online on other platforms, such as e-readers — all of which is inherent in the flexibility we provide.”

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