By: Carl Sullivan
One of the biggest obstacles of selling newspaper Web site content is developing the technological infrastructure necessary to accept payments and subscriptions and control the use of content.
Two industry leaders that recently expanded their paid content offerings, the Financial Times of London and The New York Times, are both using eRights software from New York’s eMeta Corp. to power their paid content transactions.
The Financial Times is now launching new paid services on its Web site, FT.com, including several subscription levels that will offer varying degrees of access to content. Much of the site will remain free to all, but in-depth reports, archives, and other tools will only be offered to paying subscribers.
Because FT.com’s readers are scattered across Europe and the United States, the site needed a system that can handle various currencies. The site also wanted the ability to offer a wide variety of subscription packages depending on the customers’ existing relationships with the Financial Times. For the initial kickoff, FT.com is offering separate billing structures for professionals vs. students.
In the future, the site may expand to offer more pricing options. “An individual could be a print subscriber or a registered user of a sister site, and thus be eligible for a different pricing model,” said Patrick Cook, managing director of eMeta’s London office.
“By allowing us to provide an assortment of premium content at multiple subscription levels, we can not only continue to satisfy the 2.7 million unique users we currently have, but also attract new users with a powerful blend of premium and free data,” said FT.com Chief Operating Officer Zach Leonard, in describing the eMeta software.
Cook added that the software is flexible enough to allow for quick changes in pricing models. So if a particular subscription package isn’t successful, a newspaper could try a new one fairly quickly.
eMeta founder and Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Lewin said he’s had discussions with several newspapers about selling niche content on their Web sites. He expects to sign several new newspaper clients in the United States this year.
The New York Times is using eMeta’s software for archives and its other paid features such as video and special article packages.
Other vendors that are working with publishers to handle content e-commerce include Clickshare Service Corp. of Williamstown, Mass., and Qpass of Seattle.