The Corner

Economy & Business

The Return of Exclusivity

(Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Sometimes I wonder if media companies are just painfully rebuilding what was once lost.

The New York Times has succeeded in the digital era in part because it was the first to introduce an effective paywall model to generate digital subscription revenue. The model is so effective at generating needed revenue that National Review Online has implemented something like it.

I was thinking about this because of the news that BuzzFeed (no paywall) is laying off 15 percent of its staff, and Joe Rogan has signed a deal with Spotify to be the exclusive distributor of his podcast. The model of giving people stuff for free works for social networks, not publications or media stars.

For a time, the Internet unbundled our services, but the business logic of recurring revenue and exclusive content continues to be the only long-term model for a certain kind of media company.

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