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Puck’s cofounder & CEO is leaving
Here’s the latest in digital media:
Puck’s cofounder & CEO is leaving. In a staff memo, Puck's EIC Jon Kelly wrote that CEO Joe Purzycki is "incredibly gifted at operationalizing start-ups during the incredibly fraught zero-to-one stage," and the company will now look for a successor for its next stage of growth. Purzycki previously cofounded the podcast company Luminary and served as an advisor to Air Mail.
Microsoft announced an ad network for chatbots. Microsoft envisions a future where publishers, apps, and online services create their own chatbots and serve ads within the interface. Microsoft is already integrating ads into its own chatbot within Bing.
Tucker Carlson continues to dominate headlines. He may create his own media company if he can get out of his non-compete with Fox News. Over 40 new companies have run ads during his time slot at Fox News since his departure. And he’s under fire after leaks of inappropriate comments he made.
Let’s talk about Time dropping its paywall.
It’s been a couple weeks since Time announced that it would remove its paywall.
So many consumer publishers are embracing digital subscriptions – why is Time moving in the other direction?
In press around the announcement, Time’s leadership used lofty language about making journalism “accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of geographic location or economic status.” Owner Marc Benioff took a similar tone on Twitter: “free people read freely.”
But we know there’s more to it. Time has been experimenting with different types of paywalls since 2011, and as recently as 2021 leadership was making statements like “world-class journalism is worth paying for.”
One likely reason for the decision is that digital subscriptions make up a small portion of Time's $200 million in annual revenue. If 250,000 digital subscribers are paying around $2.99 per month, back of the envelope math suggests that digital subs bring in less than $10 million (less than 5% of overall revenue).
Meanwhile, Time has been investing heavily in other revenue streams in addition to advertising. TV & film now bring in 25% of revenue; the events business appears to be increasingly important; the company leaned heavily into NFTs; and Time just launched an eCommerce site. There is value to focus, and what’s best for digital subscriptions isn’t always what’s best for other revenue streams.
Ultimately, a paywall is a tough proposition for Time. It’s a general interest brand whose historical DNA centers around summaries of the news – not the specialized content often associated with successful subscription brands. It would need to transform quite a bit to make digital subscriptions a significant portion of revenue.
It’s not easy to cut something after 12 years of effort and iteration. But with digital subscriptions sidelined, Time’s other bets have a better chance of success.
And here’s more news from around the industry:
Pulitzer Prize winners were announced, with AL.com, The AP, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post all winning two awards.
Haymarket Media is laying off staff in its automobile publications.
Local newsroom ARLNow is publishing a newsletter completely with AI – including a narrative intro and article summaries.
At some rural publishers, readers are more optimistic about new revenue streams than the publishers themselves.
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