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(Business) A buzzkill for implementing an online subscription model

By Zach Arnold | January 26, 2010

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Over the last couple of years, there has been debate amongst publishers in the MMA media as to what the best financial model would be to support good sites and the ability to generate content worth everyone’s time and trouble. The two most-popular ideas dealt with ad-based sites and subscription-based sites.

Most people have already had an inkling about the damage putting site content behind a firewall can do in terms of pushing visitors away. The New York Times is proof positive of this. However, the ultimate proof of the flawed nature of the subscription-based model comes to us from New York Newsday, which according to this report has gained 35 paid online subscribers since putting up a firework on their site. If there was any questions about the long-term viability of the subscription-model, those have largely been put to rest. That’s not to say that a site like the Observer won’t make it, but that’s because they largely are the only game in town for certain information. Even with that advantage, the pickings can be slim when you have 8 million copy and paste sites online.

I am a believer in the ad-based business model, which is what Brandt DeLorenzo is pushing with his Fight Ad Network. You can also go the route of BlogAds, but you have to give up a 30% cut of the money. Plus a lot of Firefox add-ons can easily block the BlogAd javascript code.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the most successful business model online is not always the most feasible or most popular, which is selling actual goods and bringing in traffic. Sherdog has done this for years and On the Mat has been successful as well at what they do. It’s hard enough for writers in broad topic ranges like politics or sports to make a living, but it’s even harder to manage to make ends meet if you are trying to give the MMA writing career a go. I would love to see as many MMA sites thrive as possible because the more money that is put into developing and cultivating media resources, the better the content will be and the more time writers in this field will be able to really put their energy into doing the best job they possibly can.

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