Monday, October 10, 2011

Morning Brief: Netflix reverses decision to split off DVD business; The Independent to erect paywall for non-U.K. readers; it's 'Le Huffington Post', darling

A Netflix spokesman admitted today that the company "underestimated the appeal of the single web site and a single service,” Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, told the NYT this morning.

As a result, Netflix will not split into two separate streaming and physical media companies.

"This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words, no Qwikster," CEO Reed Hastings wrote on the company's official blog. He admitted, as well, "we are now done with price changes."

The Independent announced today it would launch a paywall for U.S. and Canada readers, while keeping their website free for its U.K. readers.

Usually media executives prefer to keep their foreign readers accessing their site for free knowing that they are usually casual readers. The Guardian, for instance, launched separate U.K. and U.S. mobile apps, offering U.S readers the British daily's content for free. The Independent is going in the opposition direction.

In the end, though, the strategy really will effect very few. Like the NYT's paywall, The Independent will allow readers access to 20 page views of material per month before one encounters the paywall. So while The Independent gets a large portion of this web traffic from non-U.K. sources, the chances are that much of this traffic is search engine driven.

The Huffington Post today announced that they will launched a French version of their news and opinion site. Since I assume the reason for the launch is so that Arianna Huffington can have an excuse to spend more time in Paris, this shouldn't be much of a surprise.

The surprise was its partner in the new venture: Le Monde. (I wonder if AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is completely unfamiliar with the newspaper?)

The new site, Le Huffington Post, will be merged with Le Post, a Le Monde-run website.