Last night The Atlantic hosted a discussion titled “Money, Media, and the Future of HBO” with network co-president Richard Plepler and the magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Also on hand were Michael Hirschorn, Stephen Colvin of The Daily Beast, and Senator Michael Bennet.
Plepler discussed the success of HBOGo, which allows subscribers to view their favorite episodes of Entourage or True Blood from any computer, and eventually on portable devices like the iPad or Blackberry. The theme of the evening seemed to be, “Piracy will always be an issue, but people will always pay for quality.”
Looking to expand this theory to print publications, FishbowlNY talked to Atlantic editor James Bennet. The magazine was one of the earliest users of a pay wall on its Web site, but like The New York Times, it eventually took it down in 2008 to allow readers to view the content for free. Now that the Times is planning on charging again, would Bennet’s magazine follow suit?
“It’s an idea we’re constantly revisiting,” Bennet told us. “But we can’t afford to be ideological about it. The New York Times‘ announcement does not affect our decision at all.” The magazine has no current plans to reinstate a pay system, he added.
When asked how The Atlantic plans to monetize in new media, Bennet pointed to The Atlantic Fiction For Kindle, created exclusively for the e-reader, which provides a series of never-before-published fiction for $3.99 a month. This is one of the few genuinely novel ideas we’ve heard about in terms of regulating content. Since it’s virtually impossible to copy and disseminate (unless you feel like all that retyping), and since it’s an original product (unlike news, which users can get from a variety of sources), it may be one of the few types of word-based media people will still shell out money for.