24 September 2009

Pay to Read about the Play?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has begun charging users for "premium" online coverage of the city's professional American football team, the Vikings.

For $5.95 for three months (not quite a whole season), or $19.95 a year, subscribers to Access Vikings get additional "insider" information not available anywhere else. This includes:

* Chats with a reporter from inside the locker room after every game.

* The ability to ask well-known Vikings reporters "probing questions" before the game each week.

* "Insight and analysis" from the newspaper's Vikings columnists.

* Access to a blog by a former all-pro player, who will "blog his impressions of the season."

* Photo galleries of game images from Star-Tribune photographers.

The Star Tribune tried something similar seven years ago, Staci Kramer points out in a post on PaidContent.org. It didn't work -- but the price was higher in 2002, costing $4.95 for just one month's access then, $29.95 for the year. The newspaper shut the experiment down after attracting only around 1,000 subscribers.

"Put in fan perspective, the [2009] three-month pass is less than one beer at an NFL [National Football League] stadium; the annual subscription would be two or three beers," Kramer helpfully points out.

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