Blog Post

Aftermath Of Barrons/WSJ Online Subscription Split

Because I spend so much time dealing with the online side of Dow Jones, I knew the daywas coming when, as an Online Journal subscriber, I’d either lose access to Barrons or have to pay extra. Ditto for anyone who subscribed to Barron’s and had access to the Journal. The company was public about it; we wrote about it here. But even others who expected a change may have thought it would be implemented as subscriptions expired — similar to the increase in subscription rates. Gordon Crovitz, president of Electronic Publishing, said earlier this month that the affected group was small. Small — but in some cases very vocal. Take our friend Peter Zollman, who considered access to Barron’s as a value-add to his Online Journal subscription. He protested the move publicly on the E-Media Tidbits blog and privately through customer service. Over the weekend, he was told via email that his access to both would continue until his subscription expires.
I wondered if this was a global policy. It’s not. Here’s what Crovitz had to say: “The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s are very different brands, with the respective web sites serving very different needs of very different subscribers. There is a modest segment of people who use both sites, and we have tried to accommodate some of these long-term and loyal subscribers on a case-by-case basis. There is no change in the new pricing model.”
Dow Jones continues to emphasize the enhancements to Barron’s that accompanied the change as reinforcement of the value. The central question here isn’t whether Barron’s is worth the additional $20 a year for Online WSJ subscribers or vice versa — it could be seen as a bargain in other circumstances — it’s whether major changes that may lower perceived value should be imposed during a subscription or at the end. The latter gives consumers the facts to make an informed choice about renewal.