There's a lot of talk about newspapers charging for their content online but quietly, something interesting is happening: the very blogs that are usually associated with 'free' are dipping their toes in the waters of paid content.

In the tech blogosphere, TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb sell reports. GigaOm has a subscription service. Add to that list Ars Technica, which has launched a new subscription service dubbed Ars Premier 2.0.

For $50/year or $30/bi-annually, subscribers receive access to subscriber-only content, features and forums, a PDF library, live chat events and full-text RSS feeds. They also receive an ad-free browsing experience, special offers from Ars Technica partners and membership in an Ars Editorial Roundtable. In short, an Ars Technica subscription doesn't stop at content; it aims to provide an experience. Sound familiar?

That Ars Technica has launched a subscription service isn't exactly surprising. It offered one in the past and its magazine publisher parent, Condé Nast, isn't exactly wet behind the ears when it comes to the idea of charging for content. According to members of the Ars team, however, the decision to offer a subscription service was not the work of Condé Nast.

Based on comments left by Ars Technica users, it appears that the service is generally well-received. How much moola the service will add to the Ars Technica bottom line is anyone's guess but since Ars isn't taking anything away from non-subscribers, there's little to lose.

Which goes to the heart of the reason why popular tech blogs are embracing paid content in one form or another: they have large audiences and market cred. By not taking advantage of their ability to provide more value to their audiences in some fashion and to charge for it they'd be leaving money on the table.

None of this is to say that paid content and subscriptions are going to be an easy business for most tech blogs. As more players compete for a finite amount of dollars, depth, quality and overall value will only grow in importance. The blogs that already have the capabilities and infrastructure to deliver these things, or those who are willing to invest in developing them, will reap the rewards. Those who do what too many in the traditional media have done (charge without consideration of value) will not.

May the best blogs win.

Photo credit: -luz- via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 11 September, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)


Anna Sebestyen

Not taking away is a key point in their approach.

I wonder if they will add a top notch customizable daily tech news podcast. I feel that I avoid more and more pdfs, but like to get away from the laptop for a walk and listen to great podcasts (like Chris Anderson's  FREE).

I would definitely pay for one great tech news podcast, especially if it could

a, granularly learn from my ratings like pandora or

b, offer a summary and let me decide if I wish to listen to the whole article or just the intro

c, share instantly

d, bookmark instantly


almost 9 years ago


Rusty Speidel

So funny, the key point here is "As more players compete for a finite amount of dollars, depth, quality and overall value will only grow in importance."

Sounds a LOT like newspapers, magazines, HBO. Good, credible content costs money to produce, and folks are willing to pay for value they think is worth it. I have said all along i think this content migration online is just that, a migration away from paper. Once that is complete, the sheer noise that accompanies a totally open market will compel folks to seek quieter and higher-quality environments.

almost 9 years ago


Akash Sharma

I think its a good choice to sell some content if it is worth it as these special reports have a lot of knoledge to give when it comes to detailed information about some specific things.

almost 9 years ago


Ryan Biddulph


It's a good idea is the content is worth paying for.  It all depends on how valuable the content is, and how difficult it would be to obtain from anywhere else on the web.  This is a competitive arena.  The most creative blogs will get paid.


almost 9 years ago


ball valve

I think it's a good idea

over 8 years ago

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