Updated: Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) is testing the power of its combined ownership of Newsday and the dominant Long Island broadband provider with a bold move: making access to most of Newsday.com an exclusive benefit for print subscribers and its Optimum Online customers throughout the New York area as of Oct. 28. Between the two, Cablevision estimates that covers roughly 75 percent of Long Island households. At the same time that it shuts down outside traffic to most of the site, Newsday is promising advertisers new interactive services with the premise that users will be more engaged and more valuable.
Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge said earlier this year that the company planned to end free access to the site but didn’t elaborate about how it would be done. Some parts of Newsday.com will remain public when the walls go up: homepage (literally a homepage, not a news site front page), classifieds, school closings, obituaries, weather and entertainment listing. Want more without getting the paper or using the ISP? That will run $5 a week — about $260 a year. Optimum Online users will have to register to access the site outside the home, while Newsday subs will have to register for any access. A banner on the homepage is ticking down the days until the site closes, with a reminder to register.
Debby Krenek, SVP-digital media and managing editor of Newsday.com, said the move has been in the works for the last six months. It makes sense for Newsday “because we basically have looked at our audience and know the local user is much more engaged.” Newsday.com drew 509,466 local unique visitors in September, according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) Media Metrix, while Newsday‘s last published report had circulation of 368,194 on weekdays and 426,510 for Sunday. Nielsen put Newsday.com’s total uniques at 2.28 million for September.
Krenek knows access from outside Long Island will drop: “We know that our overall traffic’ is going to decrease because we