Globe pricing strategy may be working

The Boston Globe’s bold gamble to raise its digital subscription price by 74 percent may be working, reports Ken Doctor.

When the story broke about the Globe’s price change in July, many were skeptical because the new rate was among the highest in the nation. The price rose from $3.99 a week to $6.93, or an increase from $207 to $360 on an annual basis. The new price is roughly 99 cents a day, nearly three times the national average.

Despite the steep price hike, Doctor reports the Globe’s number of digital subscribers has held relatively steady at 65,000. “If churn doesn’t go up much when you nearly double the price, what do we make of that?” Doctor asks. “The experience confirms the highly aggressive print pricing publishers have put into place in the last four years: Highly engaged readers will pay more for a good news product than we had ever guessed.”

Doctor says the key question now is whether the Globe can significantly increase its digital subscriber base. “If it tops out at fewer than 100,000, that will be disappointing,” he said. “If it reaches more than 200,000, it will have built a successful model absolutely parallel to the [New York] Times’ national/global success.”

Doctor calls the Globe the top regional newspaper in the country and says the key to its success is unique and valuable content. He says the Globe has benefited tremendously under John Henry’s ownership, avoiding the drastic staff and spending cuts that have plagued most of its competitors.

“If the Globe’s repricing of digital subscriptions continues to prove itself out, we may well have a new model for reader revenue in the digital age,” Doctor says. “Given the awful financial straits of the industry, it can’t arrive too soon.”

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

For a Legislature that accomplished little in the first year of a two-year session, there’s always next year. (CommonWealth)

Attorney General Maura Healey proposes new fantasy sports regulations, requiring players to be at least 21 and letting participants know when they are playing against someone who is effectively a professional. (State House News)

The uber-conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance says it will target Democrats next year who voted down an amendment by a Republican state rep to the public records bill that would have subjected the Legislature to the law. (WGBH)

Gov. Charlie Baker‘s comments on Syrian refugees undercut his image as a data-focused numbers guy, says Alan Wirzbicki. And Baker’s standoff on the issue with Rep. Seth Moulton may have signaled the end of his honeymoon with state Democrats. (Boston Globe)

A state audit report on Wednesday says cities and towns that have housed homeless families in hotels and motels have collected thousands of dollars from the local option hotel tax paid by the state. (The Enterprise)

Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Adrian Madaro argue for a fair wage zone at Logan Airport. (CommonWealth)

State Rep. Bruce Ayers of Quincy has filed a resolution in the Massachusetts House to ask Congress to declare the City of Presidents the most patriotic city in America. Seriously. (Patriot Ledger)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

An Eagle-Tribune editorial raises questions about a deal giving public land at Essex Technical High School to a developer building a sports complex.

Pittsfield municipal government has not made much progress on hiring minorities. (Berkshire Eagle) CommonWealth examined the city’s problems last year.

Firefighters, city officials, and residents in New Bedford roundly criticized a private consultant’s recommendation to close down one of the city’s fire stations to save money. (Standard-Times)

CASINOS

A Western New England University Polling Institute survey finds support dropping for casinos. (MassLive)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A week after the Paris terrorist attacks, Muslim militants have stormed a Radisson hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, and are reportedly holding 140 guests and 30 hotel workers hostage. (Associated Press)

A Sharon 18-year-old, Ezra Schwartz, was one of five people killed yesterday in terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank. (Boston Globe)

Despite a veto threat from President Obama, the US House approves legislation placing more restrictions on Syrian refugees entering the country. (Time) Massachusetts Reps. Stephen Lynch and William Keating are two of nearly 50 Democrats to join with House Republicans on the vote. (New York Times) A Dorchester Reporter editorial includes comments offered by Lynch, presumably prior to yesterday’s vote, supportive of accepting refugees. The paper says Lynch believes they should be properly vetted, but it suggests that’s already taking place.

An Item editorial, focusing primarily on his support for accepting Syrian refugees, praises US Rep. Seth Moulton for having the courage of his convictions. US Sen. Elizabeth Warren defends accepting Syrian refugees, saying that turning them away “is not who we are.” (CommonWealth)

The Globe‘s Maria Sacchetti hears from Syrian refugees who have been settled in Worcester, who are grateful to be here but worried whether a backlash against them has been unleashed.

Words matter: Keller@Large is joining the online effort for media and public officials to stop using the acronym ISIS and call the terrorist group “Daesh,” an acronym that, among its definitions, means “violent, bigoted oppressors.”

Homelessness falls nationally, but rises in and around big cities, where wealth is concentrated and affordable housing is scarce. Los Angeles has the worst homelessness problem in the country, with an estimated 41,000 people with no place to call home. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

Scot Lehigh wonders who would actually be proud to call Donald Trump their president and says the answer explains why Republicans should worry about having the blustering billionaire as their nominee. (Boston Globe)

Voters seem to care less during this campaign season whether candidates are telling the truth or offering something less than that. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Coming soon to your local fish market: genetically-modified salmon. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The indoor track at Gloucester High School is ruled unsafe and may cost $1 million to repair. (Gloucester Times)

Officials are investigating as a hate crime the placing of black tape over photographs of black Harvard Law School faculty members outside a lecture hall. (Boston Globe) Harvard professor Ron Sullivan, director of the school’s criminal justice institute and was among those whose portraits were defaced, talks about the mood on campus. (Greater Boston)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The state Department of Mental Health ruled Pembroke Hospital falsified records and acted dangerously in the death of a young woman in the facility but stopped short of saying the hospital caused her death, pending results of the medical examiner. (Patriot Ledger)

Lawmakers are pondering raising the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21 statewide. (State House News)

TRANSPORTATION

Shirley Leung wonders if the Baker administration has the commitment to late-night MBTA service to save it. (Boston Globe)

The T has pulled the plug on $1.9 million earmarked for public art projects at the eight stations along the Green Line extension project as part of an effort to contain costs. Critics call the move, which would shave off a tiny fraction of the cost of the multibillion-dollar project, shortsighted. (Boston Globe)

The schedule of commuter rail trains is being revised, and residents in the Lynn area are worried. (The Item)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Lowell Sun editorial trashes Attorney General Maura Healey’s report saying new natural gas pipelines into the region aren’t needed. But the Berkshire Eagle argues the report means the case for the Kinder Morgan pipeline is now weaker.

Industry officials say the future of solar power in Massachusetts is in doubt after lawmakers failed to approve a measure that would lift the cap on solar energy in the grid. (WGBH)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Judge David Lowy tosses the pool television camera from the Philip Chism trial for violating his rule not to show juror faces. (Eagle-Tribune) The mothers of Chism and his alleged victim, Colleen Ritzer, suffer through difficult testimony. (Eagle-Tribune)

A Cambridge Army reservist is arrested on Long Island for stealing weapons from a Worcester armory. He was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet at the time.(Telegram & Gazette)

Boston Police confirm they use equipment that can track the location of cell phones in real time. (New England Center for Investigative Reporting)

The sister of Whitey Bulger‘s jailed girlfriend picketed outside the federal courthouse in Boston yesterday urging her sister’s release and saying Bulger regrets that he’s indisposed and unable to help spring her. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Dan Rea, a thinking man’s AM talk radio host, writes Jessica Heslam, mindful that such a description qualifies as newsworthy. (Boston Herald)

Breaking up is hard to do… but you can completely wipe the ex out of your social media life. Facebook is testing a new tool that will allow users to mass delete and edit old posts and photos of former significant others. (New York Times)