By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A few thoughts on the Globe’s digital rate hike

CommonWealth Magazine editor Bruce Mohl reports that The Boston Globe is about to increase its digital-only subscription rate by 74 percent — from $3.99 to $6.93 a week, or about $1 a day.

As I told Bruce for a follow-up, it’s a bold move — maybe too bold. The Globe has had a lot of success with paid digital subscriptions, having sold around 78,000 of them as of last September, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. The AAM does a lot of double- and even triple-counting of digital (the Globe itself claims a more modest 65,000, according to Mohl’s article), but that’s still an impressive number.

I’m sure some subscribers will walk away rather than pay the higher fee, but probably not too many. If you’re paying to read the Globe, it’s most likely because you are a committed Globe reader of long standing. To invoke the old cliché, $1 is considerably less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Still, some will cancel:

Newspaper companies charge for content at their peril. News executives may chafe at giving away their journalism, but members of their audience don’t feel like they’re getting anything for free — not after paying hundreds of dollars a month for broadband, cell service and their various digital devices.

Interestingly, while the Globe itself is becoming more expensive, John Henry and company are also making some big bets on free with sites like Crux, BetaBoston, and the forthcoming life-sciences vertical, which will be called Stat according to several employment listings I’ve seen.

I wish the Globe success as its executives try to figure out how to pay for journalism in the 21st century. But at this point I think it would be wiser to focus on building their subscriber base than trying to squeeze more out of their existing customers.

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  1. Laurence Kranich

    Can you still get unlimited access with a Sunday home-delivery subscription? That will once again be a bargain, even at the recently increased rates.

  2. I will gladly pay to avoid the take over ads that have been dominating lately. I don’t even visit the site any more they are so annoying.

  3. Randy Holhut

    Considering how much the paper-and-ink version of the Globe costs in southern Vermont, it’s still a better deal to pay about a dollar a day for the one-star city edition of the weekday paper than $2 a day for the three-star practice edition of the weekday paper. And I’m getting the Sunday paper for a just a dollar more. The price hike is definitely more painful for the metro readers that those us out in the hinterlands.

  4. mike benedict

    Where you buying coffee for considerably less than $1? At Cumby’s, it’s $1.06 with tax.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: Is that in response to what I wrote? Me: “To invoke the old cliché, $1 is considerably less than the cost of a cup of coffee.” Just the opposite.

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