This week, the Observer reported some news that at first seemed very startling: Since Newsday's website went behind a pay wall, only 35 people have signed up for paid online subscriptions. Yikes! From October to December, there was a 700,000 drop in online viewership. But Cablevision local media president Tad Smith sent out a memo today explaining how this is nothing to worry about. See, this was the plan all along! From the memo, which Gawker intercepted:
Despite my reluctance to enter this media scrum, I wanted all of us to understand clearly newsday.com's strategy and to share in my genuine satisfaction with results thus far as well as optimism for the future. The strategy for Newsday's website uniquely derives from its carriage on Cablevision. Newsday.com creates value for its shareholders when it publishes high quality content that people desire. And, unlike other publishing websites, Cablevision has millions of high-speed Internet customers plus hundreds of thousands of Newsday home delivery subscribers who pay a fee each month to receive services.
Therefore, Newsday's web strategy has two parts: 1) to provide Newsday's print subscribers with a rich web experience that goes far beyond what they can get in the newspaper alone, thereby motivating them to remain, return, or choose to subscribe to Newsday; and 2) to provide Cablevision's high-speed Internet customers with reasons to remain with Cablevision, reasons to return to Cablevision, or reasons to choose Cablevision.
Newsday estimates that actually, with their print subscribers and Cablevision-owned Optimum Online users, they already reach 75 percent of Long Island residents. So the 35 subscribers is just a bonus, really. And who cares about those readers who live outside of Long Island, anyway?