Subscription Bundles

Very interesting experiment over at the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago Tribune will at last begin charging for its online content through an innovative scheme that will also give readers access to a premium package of third party content, the newspaper has told paidContent. Under the plan, readers will see selections from the Economist and Forbes magazines included in a new paid section, which will also include Tribune content that has been newly designated as premium. – paidContent, June 26th, 2012

Bundles are the obvious way to add value and therefore charge a premium. This is common in the print world. The Japan Times did a deal with the International Herald Tribune and would include several pages of their international coverage within their weekly paper, the Wall Street Journal makes it’s business news and Weekend Journal available for other papers to license.  I’m not talking about the AP, Reuters, or other wire services that make a business from licensing their content – I’m talking about visibly branded bundles where the reader recognizes they are getting two publications for the price of one.

I’m sure I’m missing something but I can’t think of an example of this happening online with any premium news sites. Sure, Yahoo bundled in brands such as ABC and CNBC into news.yahoo.com, that’s not what I’m talking about – I am talking about instances where a group of online publications get together to share subscription plans so their customers get the benefit of multiple brands with a single subscription.

I’m interested in this because it’s the next step in something that I first wrote about last year. Once you have the concept of a subscription bundle, the next step is to get sponsors to underwrite these bundles.

But the most visionary thing and something I keep coming back to is will.i.am’s vision of the next generation internet. It’s a world where brand “alliances” pool together to subsidize content producers. A world where, “chips talk to chips” without a middleman to make the free flow of content seamless and automatic. In this new world, a collection of devices will marry themselves to a library of content and work seamlessly together. – this blog, Feb 23, 2011

Imagine a perk for all American Express Platinum members that includes annual subscriptions to wsj.com, nytimes.com, the iPad app for the New Yorker, Spotify, and a Netflix account. Maybe they give you an iPad as a bonus for signing on today. Wouldn’t that be a compelling benefit? That would speak to me better than free access to airline lounges or free hotel room upgrades.

Besides iTunes or Amazon, is there a business out there pulling together online subscription bundles that isn’t tied to hardware?

Further Reading

Chris Dixon describes how subscription bundles maximize revenue.

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