The Last of the Subscription Sites

CNet’s got an article up about the Consumer Report site – one few subscriptions sites that is making it work (although I should note we were saying that last year this time about both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, both of whom have either dropped or will soon drop site subscription). The only other place subscriptions seem to thrive is on the nasty side of the net….Pr0n.

For a decade, however, Consumer Reports has charged Internet readers the same price as print subscribers, currently $26 a year (or $5.99 for a month’s online access or $45 a year to get the magazine both in print and on the Web). While the rest of the industry sees print readers as more valuable–because advertisers do–Consumer Reports actually makes more money from readers on its Web site, because it avoids printing, trucking, and mailing costs.

This is purely a matter of niche – and niche is thing that generally makes the cut between success on content sites and abject failure. It’s also the thing that’s going to sort the wheat from the chaff in Social Networking, Social Media, Web 2.0 or whatever your favorite term for it is, in the coming year or so.

I was struck by this thought the other day while discussing an upcoming project: Web 3.0 will be the application of all the fun Facebook type stuff to the niche market. It’ll be the place that all that stuff actually starts to work for people. If not, it will, as they say, fade into the east and diminish.

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