September 18 may mark the second day of one of the most famous operations of World War Two, Operation Market Garden, but in 2007 it also marks the beginning of the end of the pay for content model favored by some in the main stream media.
Yesterday the New York Times announced that as of midnight tonight (US EST, 19 Sep) the New York Times pay to view Select Service is no more. All content previously offered under the paid service is now immediately available for all to view.
The history of paid content goes back to the collapse of the Web 1.0 bubble, a time before content monetization was a sure bet through programs such as Google Adsense and others. There was a backlash against free content for a while, and a number of companies launched pay-to-view programs. The New York Times was one of the last to maintain this model.
Surely, with the Wall Street Journal being acquired by News Corp, the WSJ pay-to-view program must now be on death row. Similarly, the Australian Financial Review’s paid AFR.com service has been rumored to be on its last legs for some time, and will shortly close.
Most importantly: this is a win for all of us. The notion of paying to access content is flawed in a connected online world where virtually everything is free, particularly content. Companies such as the NY Times can make money from providing content for free. The fall of the model for all publications is nigh.