Walls of Mass Destruction (continued)

The Times announced today that 270,000 people have signed up for Times Select, the service that lets you get content that used to be free like op-ed columns.

About half of this 270,000 are print subscribers who get Times Select for free so that means the Times has generated close to $7mm in subscription revenues in two months.

$7 million is a pretty large number and so many will say this has been a success.  But as I pointed out in a previous post, the traffic to these opinion pages has dropped off significantly since the implementation of Times Select.

Let’s assume that they will continue to sign up new Times Select subscriptions but at not nearly the rate they did at launch and that they will end up with 250,000 paying subs at the end of the first year.

That’s a $12.5mm per year revenue stream.

Since the Times never sold ads on its opinion pages, that is a windfall and its real money.

So I suppose the walls are going to stay up unless the columnists revolt.

And so far, it seems they are willing to go along.  Maybe the op-ed columnists are going to get a piece of this revenue stream. That might make a lot of sense to compensate them for losing their audidence in the name of a business model.

I still think this is a bad business move long term, but it certainly seems like a smart move in the short term.