Media Appraiser Kevin Kamen: Wrong Time For Cablevision To Charge For Free Newsday Web Content

February 27, 2009

(Baldwin, N.Y.) “Cablevision has just released a plan to soon begin charging for what is currently free content on their Newsday website. Shame on Cablevision! These are tough economic times for many residents on Long Island. Thousands are losing their homes and jobs, the government just passed a stimulus bill for close to $800 billion and here is Cablevision sending out the worse possible message for those who reside on Long Island. If Cablevision honestly believes that charging a web subscriber fee is going to significantly impact their profit margins then they are really in for a shocker. This has not been an effective tool to drive revenue at other newspapers and will not increase the valuation of Newsday. If anything, millions less will visit their website and readers will seek other alternatives to fill their appetite for local news,” stated media appraiser Kevin Kamen, president of Kamen & Co Group Services in Baldwin, NY.

“We read that Newsday is in the process of transforming their website into an enhanced, locally focused cable service,” Kamen continued, “but what we have not yet heard is what the costs to subscribe to their website will ultimately be. Most daily newspapers have seen that charging for web content does not work. It is simply easier for viewers to click away at a competing newspaper that does not charge a subscriber fee. It’s a fair bet that if Cablevision follows through with this fee plan, Newsday will immediately lose millions of page views. Some advertisers who appear on the Newsday website might want to also pull out because millions less will be viewing the site. Also, as soon as they begin to charge other local news media and informational websites such as and hometown newspaper sites should essentially receive greater attention and support from both readers and ad buyers alike.”

Kamen concluded his remarks by stating,” With this news, it is a great time for local weekly newspaper groups to begin to invest in, upgrade and market their websites because their page views are going to escalate substantially. Unfortunately, if Cablevision begins to charge a subscriber fee for web content, it will be impacting the flow of news across Nassau and Suffolk Counties and this is terrible, particularly if there were an emergency and information needed to be provided to residents quickly. Having to subscribe and pay a fee for website access will have a detrimental impact on the region. Sadly, this action speaks volumes and feeds directly into the theory of Cablevision cornering the regional market and not caring about its core local readership and advertisers. I suggest that they rethink this and find a better way to generate revenue. Charging for online content is not the way to go these days; increasing efforts to cross-sell ads online, in Newsday, in its sister publications and on News 12 as a combo buy would provide for broad channel appeal and be a smarter route to follow. With hundreds of thousands unemployed and many in need of as much information as they can get while seeking job opportunities and access to news and information that impacts the local region, this decision, at this time, is unwise. Newsday and Cablevision should be working hard to make life less stressful and enjoyable for Long Islanders, not dismantle the goodwill established over the many years.”