The announcement that Andrew Sullivan’s nomadic blog the Dish would once again be going indie — this time with a metered paywall system and a $19.99 subscription price — has been met with hardcore reader enthusiasm so far. “Basically, we’ve gotten a third of a million dollars in 24 hours, with close to 12,000 paid subscribers,” Sullivan writes today at the Daily Beast, which he’ll soon abandon for a newer, shinier domain. “If our goal was an annual income of somewhere around $900K (we erred on the safe side), we have gotten a third of the way there in 24 hours, which is why we’re all somewhat gob-smacked.”
People are even donating more than the ticket price for entry, with one huge fan throwing in $10,000. At Reuters, Felix Salmon estimated that Sullivan and his small team would need at least $750,000 annually, plus benefits, with a subscriber base around 50,000, but as Sullivan giddily notes, those in on day one are “only one percent of our total monthly readership — so we have plenty of room to talk more of you into subscribing before the meter hits.”
Up-and-coming Tumblr mavens with dollars signs in their eyes shouldn’t get too excited, though: Sullivan is a brand-name blogging legend, an Internet pioneer, and a singular voice who can, for instance, set the tone for an entire election season news cycle with one stream-of-consciousness meltdown. Like the most well-established pundits from cable news to the Op-Ed pages, Sullivan has the same influence and draws the same audience whether he’s right or wrong. He just happens to do it online.