View Full Version : Ars Technica goes to subscriptions
This is a sign of the times that ads no longer pay the bills. Ars will lose part of their audience to free sites like Toms hardware and Anandtech with this move. But eventually more sites are going to move to a subscription model. Ars happened to be one of the first. Giving subscribers extra benefits instead of denying non-subscribers access is the way Ars did it. The question is what site will be next to move to a subscription model?
How many of a websites audience will pony up for a subscription and how much are will they pay? Ars has a loyal audience but what about other sites? Sure they'll always be pc enthusiast websites on geocities and whatnot.
[Edited by sbp on 07-08-2001 at 07:31 PM]
07-08-2001, 08:34 PM
Doh... Hope that doesn't get popular.
07-08-2001, 09:04 PM
Well, I don't really see how else to do it. I mean, the Internet simply assumed they'd go with the TV model: get enough eyeballs, and you can sell stuff. Only problem is, there's this persistant notion that the internet should be free and noble or something similarly stupid.
I guess it's going to suck, but the only way the Internet was going to stay free was if PRODUCING the Internet was free. And with the mountainous bandwidth costs, not to mention the salaries and fees paid to those that generate these things, I think we all knew it was in the mail...
Sad, but in my eyes, inevitable. I just hope the Apex boys don't start charging us by the post, or Hapoo's going to run up quite a bill!
07-08-2001, 09:30 PM
Originally posted by pennypinch
I just hope the Apex boys don't start charging us by the post, or Hapoo's going to run up quite a bill!
Pfft! Look who's talking, seņor tres-mil!
Frankly, I don't see the Inertnet ending up in the hands of subscribers. Independent content has been and will always be on the web so long as:
1. the production of content is free (ie, the tools necessary to create are free [notepad and a little help from O'Reilly and Assoc.], and space is included with your monthly fee)
2. the net remains, much to AOL's chagrin, a hobbyist's playground. It's not to the point where we can turn on, tune in and zone out. It still requires interaction and a certain level of adeptness.
Thankfully, this beautiful thing is still so damn large and wild that it's impossible to quash the independent voice, and it's going to remain this way for quite some time. At least until I figure out how to charge you all for it.
Some expected the ad business to recover but that hasn't happened yet.
The problem is ads were just thrown up and people were expected to click on them. Well that didn't work. Now advertisers are resorting to popups because they realize people don't click on ads. The problem is popup ads irritate a lot of people. Also notice cnet/zdnet has flash ads in the middle of their news stories now.
Sad to say, throughout the remainder of the year there will be more hardware sites and networks going down.
Check this out. Some ingrate complained that Anandtech was getting greedy and Anand Lal Shimpi responded (http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.cfm?catid=38&threadid=477190&highlight_key=y&keyword1=anand):
"Here's something to think about. The AnandTech Forums actually eat up more in bandwidth costs than the advertising on the Forums actually brings in, by a good amount. Because of the nature of the Forums, they actually eat up more bandwidth than the main site in spite of the fact that the main site does more traffic. In the business world, when something isn't making money but is rather losing money on a consistent basis that is almost a given that you kill that part of the company off - yet the forums are still around and I personally go up to Pittsburgh along with Jason Clark almost every quarter to perform upgrades/maintanence on the servers just to make sure that the Forums are running as quickly as possible. So why on earth do I keep them around? Because, personally I like them and I do like to provide you all with a place where you can feel welcome and really feel like you're a part of the family because you are.
If it weren't for advertising on the main site, there would be no Forums. I am currently working on some value added features that would help branch out the AnandTech business model to take care of things like the Forums. If you call that greedy, try spending close to a quarter million dollars a year just to keep a community running because you actually care for it not because it's bringing in a profit."
07-09-2001, 09:45 AM
I think it's a huge mistake. Sites like Ars and Anand are not what they because of top-down content. It's the community. What these groups need to understand is that the TV or magazine model will never work. It's based on a hierarchical model wherein 100% of content is pushed down to the consumer. The internet doesnt work that way. It's based on many to many communication. The killer apps have always been communication oriented. These sites are what they because the number of people that visit them. If you drive the people away, the content doesn't mean a thing. It's the community bubbling up from the bottom that makes things strong.
They can try to charge all they want. What will people do? What would you do? Just find whatever you want on a free site. There will always be someone willing to do it for free.
The hard part is figuring out a way for the middle class to thrive. The huge national names with multi-million dollar sites will always do just fine. Likewise, the small sites with 1 or 2 people performing a labor of love dont really have to worry about costs, so anything they make is a bonus. I dont have an easy answer, but the money has to come from somewhere and it isn't coming from me. I don't pay for websites. I rarely pay for media. I gather information from wherever I can get it for free and there's millions of people that operate the same way.
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