YNN latest to put up Internet ‘paywall’

The YNN website now offers more to Time Warner Cable subscribers, but blocks almost all video conten

The YNN website now offers more to Time Warner Cable subscribers, but blocks almost all video content on the website from non-subscribers.

The change began at the end of the summer as part of a rollout across the country by Time Warner, which operates news stations such as YNN in various states. The change is part of a plan to offer more Internet options for subscribers, like extended videos and full-length versions of shows, which hadn’t previously been available on the website.

Steve Paulus, senior vice president of news and local programming for Time Warner Cable, said the goal of the transition is to provide an added benefit for cable subscribers. Non-subscribers will still be able to access text versions of stories and very limited video clips.

“We’re still trying to figure out, as every media organization is, how to protect our media content,” Paulus said.

The decision came after many internal conversations and a review of how other media outlets were protecting their content on the Internet. He noted that Cablevision already allows only its subscribers to access its downstate New York local news channel’s content on the Internet.

A “paywall,” as the barrier to access is casually referred to, is not unique for Capital Region newspapers. The Daily Gazette has a relatively solid paywall, with stories on the Internet solely available to subscribers. The Post Star in Glens Falls introduced a permeable paywall in the spring, which allows non-subscribers limited access each month and gives subscribers full access to the website’s content. Visitors to the website of The Recorder in Amsterdam must be registered users to read the full text of a story.

Unlike some of the existing paywalls, Time Warner subscribers will not need to pay extra for access to the YNN website.

None of the Capital Region’s other television news outlets requires any subscription. The stations, though, are included on all basic cable packages and aren’t products unique to Time Warner’s cable.

Roy Gutterman, director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University, said the decision by YNN represents a novel approach. He wasn’t familiar with the model being replicated by other television stations, but noted that newspapers have been experimenting with paywalls for years.

He pointed to the New York Times paywall, which allows a limited amount of free Internet access for non-subscribers, as a success because the Times offers a product that people want.

Paulus said that in making the decision at YNN, the company was aware that most of its website’s users were already Time Warner subscribers. The fear was that the process of creating a user account would be too cumbersome, but the company thinks it has created a manageable process that won’t turn people away.

Additionally, once users create an account and sign into the website, they’re not required to provide authentication in the future.

Some Time Warner subscribers may already have an account and don’t need to register one. If customers manage their accounts through the website’s MyServices, use the Time Warner app or access content such as WatchESPN and HBO Go, then they already have an account that can be used for the YNN website.

Regardless of the ease of use, Gutterman said the company expects to lose a portion of its Internet audience when instituting any hurdle.

Since introducing the change, YNN Marketing Manager Scott Christiansen said usage of the website has remained steady and there have been few complaints. “We’re really happy with what we’ve been delivering to our customers,” he said.

As part of the enhanced experience, subscribers will have access to YNN content outside their immediate region, including YNN’s downstate sister station, NY1. YNN’s website will offer daily episodes of “Capital Tonight,” the market wrapup show “From the Floor,” long-form interviews, customizable “Zoom Radar” and weekly episodes of “Talking Pictures on Demand.”

According to Time Warner’s privacy policy, no personally identifiable information generated by a subscriber’s Internet use will be shared with third parties for marketing purposes without a subscriber’s consent.

Categories: Business, Schenectady County

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