MSNBC.com Plans Video Subscription, Again, and Again, and…: This one has been a long time cooking, and is still not fully cooked, so to speak. MSNBC.com is planning to begin charging for some of its video and audio content as soon as early next year, according to this story. The site has been thinking about charging for more than a year now.
Last year, right after Sep 11. attacks, Michael Silberman, now the editor-in-chief, told me (in a story I did for Inside.com, titled “Streaming News Emerges as a Force During, and After, Attacks”) that the site had been considering subscription options but has been struggling with some technical and moral (yes!) issues. On another occasion, when I interviewed him for another story (free registration required) in March this year, Silberman still believed that ad-model is the way to go for MSNBC.com. He told me: “In September last year, MSNBC.com served 73 million request for video, and about half of those requests were in the few days following September 11. That’s a huge demand for video,” said Silberman, referring to the fact that advertisers will pay for such a large audience. Contrast this with the latest story above, where Silberman is increasingly confident that users will pay for his site’s programming.
About the moral issues, he pointed out (in the March story) the public service roles that broadcasters have traditionally served. “We think that there is an obligation on us as broadcasters, as the website of NBC News, to provide video of breaking news events and matters of national importance to our audience for free,” said Silberman. In the same story, he also criticized CNN.com for turning its video clips into a subscription package and thought CNN.com was “making a mistake”.
This dilly-dallying has been going around for a while now at MSNBC.com…This is what I want to know: how much of MSNBC.com’s strategy is influenced by MSN’s strategy, and how does it fit into MSN’s current and future plans?