Peter Kafka

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Time Inc. Wonders What You’ll Pay For on the Web

Time Warner’s Time Inc. (TWX) invited the press to its midtown headquarters yesterday to show off the latest and greatest at the publishing group’s digital portfolio. But while Time is happy to boast about its online audience, it is also acknowledging that Web advertising alone may not be enough these days. So it’s going to start charging readers.

Or more accurately, it’s going to start tinkering with the notion.

Time Inc. EVP John Squires, who floated the idea with reporters yesterday, teased it out a bit for Silicon Alley Insider: “Certain content area of our sites will try some pay tests, just to see what will drive consumers to get out their wallets or subscribe to one of our magazines.”

PaidContent’s Staci Kramer got a Time Inc. official to provide an equally vague take: “There is nothing specific to point to now but you can expect some experiments within six to eight months. We’re also looking closely at devices and applications and pricing and business models associated with those.”

The upshot: You’re going to see more and more publishers at least fiddle with the notion of getting readers to pay for something online. The New York Times (NYT), for instance, has been publicly musing about this for some time now.

And bear in mind that lots of publishers never stopped trying to get consumers to pay up. Disney’s (DIS) for instance, has sold an “Insiders” premium subscription alongside its free stuff for many years.

And sports may be a natural place for Time Inc. to try an upsell. Yahoo Sports, which charges a premium for its fantasy sports offering, has seen annual revenue increases of more than 20% for years — including this year — according to Jim Pitaro, who runs Yahoo’s (YHOO) sports and entertainment group.

Meanwhile, here’s a way to get a sense of what Time Inc. really wanted to talk about yesterday — the decks they used in their presentations. In order, the slides are from Squires; managing editor Josh Tryangiel; SVP Jonathan Shar; managing editor Cyndi Stivers;  and SI Digital VP Ken Fuchs.

TIME_DigitalShowcase_031809 – Get more Business Documents

CNNMoney_DigitalShowcase_031809 – Get more Business Documents

Squires_DigitalShowcase_031809 – Get more Business Documents

CNNMoney_DigitalShowcase_031809 – Get more Business Documents

EW_DigitalShowcase_031809 – Get more Business Documents

SIGOLF_DigitalShowcase_031809 – Get more Business Documents

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