Digital media’s rush into paywalls is continuing. The latest is Bloomberg, which is planning to launch a paywall on its Bloomberg.com page. This would follow moves it made earlier this year to put Businessweek content beyond a metered paywall, and cordon off its older articles only to Terminal subscribers. Bloomberg already has a massively successful business in selling $20,000 Terminals to people in the finance industry, so the subscription mindset is built into the brand. It’s been time-delaying its most important stories so they go first to the Terminal before the website.
Bloomberg’s hugely profitable Terminal business has slowed down over the past few years, and it’s reasonable that, given the larger context of media companies building paywalls, Bloomberg would embrace it as well. And so the greatest subsidized free lunch in the media business is about to end. It makes you wonder how many free sites will be left by the end of the year.