Managing Director of the Financial Times Caspar deBono sat down with our SVP of global content licensing Dawn Conway to discuss content, ways communicators can safely use it, and why publishers put it behind paywalls.
They didn’t get to answer all the audience questions so deBono took time to follow-up here. Big thanks to deBono for taking the time to respond!
Q: What is your business model, how do you determine pricing?
A: Anyone visiting FT.com is invited to register before reading an article. Registered users can read up to 8 articles a month for free. Those who want to read more than 8 are invited to subscribe. We sell subscriptions for individuals and to organisations. Individual subscriptions provide access to FT journalism on the desktop, mobile and tablet for one price, this includes the FT’s award winning HTML5 app that works on multiple platforms with one login. Subscriptions for organisations, also give access to FT across 37 third party media platforms. The group subscription is with the FT and the FT is paid by the customer directly. Subscriptions for organisations are for teams of ten or more people. The customer pays for the high frequency users, those who are likely to read more than 8 articles a month. The FT’s copyright policy permits anyone to redistribute URLs, headlines, teaser text (140 characters of the first article) for free. If a third party wishes to commercialise a database of FT headlines then this requires a licence.
Q: A trend seems to be the distribution of content from the publisher through a third party (aggregator/API) to the consumer. Can these models support (and monetize) that system or will the future on online content distribution require a shift from this trend? What are your perspectives on these third party distributors?
A: We made the decision at the FT that it was essential to have a direct commercial relationship with our subscribers. That level or relationship is vital to really understand what our subscribers requirements are and how they are changing. If a third party manages your relationship with your customers, then they are not your customers. We also recognised that many third party media platforms brought additional value to the journalism we provided. For example the collation of other sources and workflow solutions designed for specific professions and tasks. So we designed a licensing model that allowed both a direct relationship with the FT and the benefits of third party platforms.
It is possible to separate payment for rights to use digital content, from the software used to access it. This is how the FT has operated since 2008. The FT now has 2,400 corporate customers who pay the FT for access rights, and pay any of 37 third parties for the use of their platform and services. FT’s subscribers can also use the FT’s HTML5 App on multiple platforms for one subscription payment.
The FT customers pay the FT and only the FT for rights to use the FT, they can then exercise those rights across multiple platforms. The customer benefits are multi-platform flexibility, transparency on pricing – and in the case of organisations, data to demonstrate the level of usage as evidence of value.
Q: You talked about an enterprise license model what is the model for an agency acting on behalf of a client. How can I share content with my client and in turn what restrictions are placed on the client?
A: Anyone can send anyone else links to FT articles for free. The recipient can then access up to 8 articles a month for free as a registered user. Or if they are already an FT subscriber then they will get seamless access. If you must send full text articles to clients, then you can use the FT press cuttings service. This determines whether the intended recipient is an FT subscriber or not. If they are then they get full text sent by email, if they are not then they get a link. The key point is that if your client wants to read more than 8 FT articles a month, then they need to purchase an individual or group subscription. This means that your agency does not have to absorb the FT subscription costs, it is the responsibility of your client to pay for their own subscription.
Thank you again to Caspar for the time and insight he shared with the Cision audience.