Dow Jones & Co.'s The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, has crossed the 300,000-subscriber mark and has consolidated its lead as the largest pay-to-access Web site on the Internet. The publisher cites enhanced editorial content and better information delivery, and expects the circulation ramp-up to move the New York publisher closer to its global expansion plans.
“This is intended to be a product that is as successful outside the U.S. as it is inside the U.S.,” said Tom Baker, vice president and general manager of the Interactive Edition, from his Princeton, NJ, office.
The publisher also announced another milestone in the Interactive Edition's 38-month-old history: More than about 75,000 subscribers visit the site each business day, viewing 15 different pages every session.
“I think it's really two things: one, for business news we've executed it really well, and, secondly, it's our ability to use the Wall Street Journal brand,” said Baker.
In another deal struck last month that is part of its distribution-channel strategy, the Interactive Edition will now be offered to customers of New York-based AT&T Corp.'s AT&T WorldNet online access service as part of the telecom marketer's overall subscription package.
Through Dec. 31, subscription to wsj.com will be free for a month. Thereafter, AT&T WorldNet customers who wish to subscribe to the online news service will pay either the standard monthly rate of $5.95, or only $2.95.
Launched in April 1996 as a free-access site, the Interactive Edition pulled the drawbridge up in August of that year when it changed into a subscriber-only model. In its first year, the site gained over 100,000 subscribers, doubling to more than 200,000 in the spring of 1998. The total number of visitors to the wsj.com site has dropped, however, when compared to its free-to-access days.
The Journal's global competitor FT.com, the London-based free news service of the Financial Times newspaper, claims 250,000 unique visitors a month and 2 million registered users.
Responding to outside pressure, Dow Jones launched dowjones.com last month, which unlike wsj.com's proprietary content, offers news from the print Journal, Dow Jones Business News and Associated Press for global developments.
“This is one of the most competitive marketplaces out there,” said Baker. “We face all kinds of free competition. The biggest challenge for us is to change as fast as the marketplace itself.”