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Marianne Paskowski

Cablevision to Charge for Newsday Online

February 27, 2009 8:10 AM

Cablevision Systems Corp. COO Tom Rutledge told analysts yesterday that the company took a sizable hit last quarter, mostly because of its acquisition of Long Island, N.Y.-based Newsday.

To stem the blood flow from Newsday, Rutledge told analysts that it would begin charging the newspaper’s subscribers for access to its online edition.

Newsday Website

And that’s a big move down a slippery slope, considering that most of the country’s newspapers, with the exception of the Wall Street Journal, offer readers their online content for free.

So does Cablevision, a multiple system cable operator, know something about the newspaper industry that it just became immersed in last year that old-time, traditional publishers don’t know?

You have to wonder, given that EW Scripps, publisher of the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News, is printing its last edition of the battered newspaper today, having failed to find a buyer.

I doubt Cablevision will succeed with its move to charge for Newsday’s online content, given that readers in Long Island have many other newspaper options.

Anyone think Cablevision will succeed with this rather stunning endeavor?


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Comments (18)

Andy S.:

Yes, they'll succeed in putting yet another once-proud newspaper out of its misery.

It's one thing to charge a fee for electronic-only delivery, but to charge extra to those who are already subscribing sounds like a death knell. Anyone who is still a subscriber should be treated like a king.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Andy,
People who don't like to bet against Cablevision founder Chuck Dolan, will find his latest decision just mind boggling.

He's not perfect, he failed with Voom, he backed ala carte at a time his peers were fighting it, and now this.



dont be so quick to judge. i think a well-packaged premium info. and web video service with high quality search, social, video, hyperlocal and lifestyle components can be successful and subscribers will see the benefits. when packaged with digital tv, highspeed internet and phone as well as a mobile web/tv component this will be a winner. tom rutledge has proven you wrong before and will again. i can imagine a premium web package of high quality exclusive premium product content from newsday, news12. espn 360, pro sports leagues, politico, wash.post/newsweek, BBC, HGTV/DIY, RealSimple, Bloomberg and more. maybe tied in with barry diller's iac ask.com, citysearch, bloglines, service magic, etc. and well marketed it could be a winner in the value/cost/convenience/choice world.

David Cohen:

What does Cablevision EVER do well, though? This has no shot.

Marianne Paskowski:

What you lay out makes sense in good economic times, now during a deep and prolonged recession.

So we'll see who's right a year from now, thanks for your post...Marianne

Marianne Paskowski:

Cablevision does plenty right, used to garner highest revenue from subscriber in the sector. Not so sure that's the case anymore, with cash suckers like Voom and the acquisition of Newsday.


okay, okay i'll agree they overpayed for newsday, but thats what tycoons do when they compete in pissing matches. rupert and mort could both see future synergies as well. my points above were just the starting point and could work if well-priced and promoted in todays economy. but will flourish as the markets improve. as technology, mobile and otherwise catchup you can add netflix and hulu type services to the package as well. this is the first small step along the line of being their subscribers communication access source whenever/wherever they are. optimum is well packaged and well marketed and has met fios and uverse head on and won more than theyve lost. lets give credit where credit is due.

Jim Forkan:

Hi Marianne,
The New York Post tried charging for its online content and it didn't fly. If it didn't work for Murdoch, what makes the Dolans think it'll work for them? There are too many other places on the Web to get the same editorial content.

Marianne Paskowski:

As noted in an earlier post, I do give Cablevision a lot of credit for things they've done right. I even got a friend in Westchester county New York out of FiOS and back to her original provider Cablevision.

CV was great, she quit them because they upped the ante on the Triple Play and she went over to Verizon which she hated.

Told her to call CV, they paid for her last month of FiOS, got her back to her original $99 rate for the Triple Play and gave her a $200 AmEX gift certificate. That is customer care at its best in these competitive waters....m

Marianne Paskowski:

Long time no see and thanks for bringing up the New York Post example. Cablevision has its moments of genius, however this move with Newsday is not one of them.
Be Well,


Yo, Blondie --

Only a cable company could come up with an idea that lots of people tried 15 years ago, that didn't work, but now the Dolans think they've just suddenly found the Holy Grail to profitability.

Give me a break. Cablevision itself wouldn't even be around were it not for the incompetence of competitors like Verizon and the "the dish." No one in the business is showing respect for customers, which is the only--yes, only--way to build a sustainable marketing innovation.

Cruisin not bruisin

Jeff Mulligan:


I think the Cablevision people have the right idea. Or am I thinking at all?

If a product isn't selling (in this case delivering enough readers to attract advertisers), raise the price and tell the people who aren't buying to go elsewhere.

It can make sense, somewhere, on some planet. It will probably resonate well at the next meeting of the Flat Earth Society.


Joe Guerin:

Ms. Paskowski,

It's about time someone brought that leftist rag under control. Anyone who deigns to read what is probably more liberal media claptrap in Newsday--on pinko Long Island, no less--should pay for the experience. Real Americans know the real news is on radio anyway. Kick back and listen to Rush for free. Wny pay to read more of Nancy Pelosi's propaganda?


Marianne Paskowski:

The newspaper industry tried hard over the years to sell online content, and by and large they fumbled. Look at the New York Times. Here's a stark figure: You can buy a share of NYT for $4 or the Sunday print edition for $5.

Something is wrong with the math. Maybe Cablevision with its near death grip on Long Island can marry the print and cable TV service together.

I doubt it during these times.CV's timing totally blows...mp

Marianne Paskowski:

The problem with print pubs, newspapers, magazines, you named it all rushed to put a flag on the Internet moon, thinking they would all figure it out later.

The Internet took over as print decided it had to distinguish its online product from print, but not be too different.

Hence the growth of citizen journalism on the internet and the demise of real journalists. The blend, when it's done right, is great, when not, a nail in the coffin.

Some advertisers just don't want to play online, Google ads or not....m

Marianne Paskowski:

Gee Joe,
If Republicans don't pay to listen to your pal Rush, they certainly wouldn't pay for another point of view online or in print. They watch Fox News and think they know the lay of the land.

Why should they pay for anything? They don't like to pay taxes either, listen to them squeal over Obama's proposed tax changes....m

I never cease to be amused by some people who wake up in the morning and decide to charge for something that no person will buy.

Pretty soon they will be offering Amnesty to every bad guy south of our border who wants to come in...OOPS, parden me, some idiots are already proposing that in DC.

I keep living in this polyanna place where people are responsible for their own well-being and don't expect everything just handed to them.

Obviously I'm wrong and have my head up where the Moon doesn't shine.
Peter Bright

Marianne Paskowski:

Oh Bright One,
I don't know a single business head in publishing who thinks CV will win with its strategy to make users now pay for Newsday's online content.

And they should know they tried it. Good to hear from you Peter...mp

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