People Magazine has wisely decided to give subscribers free access to People’s web content through an iPad app. As The New York Times explains,
The question of whether media companies should charge for their digital offerings and risk having fewer people view their content is one of the most urgent issues facing the business today. Other magazine publishers, like Condé Nast, have no plans to give digital content away as part of a print subscription. Condé Nast is devising a pricing structure for print-digital packages, but the prices are expected to exceed current subscription prices.
But Time Inc., which believes strongly that its print subscribers should have access to its digital products without having to pay more, has made the decision to pursue a strategy that favors higher numbers of users over maximizing consumer profits.
People subscribers – all 2.3 million of them – are a loyal bunch and are already forking out $100 for their subscriptions. It seems only fair they should get iPad content for free. Other media companies will be watching closely. As the Times points out, ads in the magazine are still much more lucrative than ads on the web. By charging for access to web content, media companies risk loosing readers altogether.