Businessweek‘s Jon Fine is reporting that ESPN The Magazine will start charging for access to its Web site. Starting in August, readers will have to pay up in order to access magazine and Web-only content like ongoing video series.
The content will be made available through ESPN’s Insider service, which costs $6.95 a month, or $39.95 a year, Fine reports. It will be available for free to magazine subscribers for a year, but espnthemag.com will be effectively shut down.
ESPN‘s bold move comes at a time when magazine publishers across the board are seeking new and different ways to earn revenue beyond ad sales. This might be a risk, but its a business model that could pay off within the sports niche. The Insider has already attracted about 350,000 paying sports fans who want to access more info than is available for free at ESPN.com, Fine says.
Interestingly, another niche publication, Saveur, said yesterday that its ad pages had increased 11 percent year to date. They have not had to change their business model yet, but they seem to be one of the only ones.
What do you think? Is this the future of magazine journalism? Would you pay to read the content of your favorite magazine — exclusive web content included?