Hickey bets on subscription model with new hive for politics news

Former Interest.co.nz managing editor Bernard Hickey is banking on subscriptions as the route to growth for his new politics and economics news website and email service hivenews.co.nz.

In development for the last five to six months by Southgate Labs, Hive News is in beta and offers a responsive site and a daily email.

It uses a metered paywall whereby users can access 20 articles per month, then must subscribe for $29 a month for 11 months of the year.

Hickey has released an example of the emails that will be sent.

He says the site won’t include advertising and believes the subscription model offers better prospects for specialist publishers to make money online.

“My personal view is it’s going to get very difficult to support expensive journalism purely with advertising online because of the changes in the way the online advertising market has changed.

“A lot of big advertisers, as they spend a large part of their advertising spend online, are going to programmatic and behavioural advertising being dominated by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook.

“It’s very difficult for specialists to break into that environment and make any money at it. Quality content is not generating the online advertising yield that it used to because with behavioural targeting, the big networks can deliver a quality audience without having to pay for quality content. It separates the owner of the specialist content from the advertising and delivers the value to the network rather than the publisher.”

Corporates, organisations and government departments can email Hickey ([email protected]) to trial the service for a month and he will negotiate a price for the service based on how many are regularly visiting the site and opening the email. The organisations will then be billed each quarter, he says.

Hickey is based in the Parliamentary Press Gallery and will remain a freelance journalist for Radio Live, Interest and Australian-based Banking Day.

Hickey was managing editor of Interest from 2008 to 2012 and has been a financial journalist for 20 years.

His wife is assisting with subediting and administration for Hive News, but he doesn’t yet have other employees.

“It’s me being as productive as I can. We aim to sell as many subscriptions as we can to individuals and companies, government departments and other organisations and if we’re successful in producing news and analysis around government and policy then we hope to generate enough income to expand.”

The site is hosted on Amazon Web Services, the email delivered via MailChimp and the credit card subscription system uses PayStation.

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