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Monday, March 17, 2003

Financial Content Mavens Speak Out on Yahoo! Platinum

CBS Marketwatch is touting the fact that it's "the first provider of business and financial market news to Yahoo! Platinum," a $9.95-a-month subscription service launched today.

I asked Bill Martin, co-publisher of financial advisory newsletter FindProfit.com, and Marc Stockman, a former marketing exec with TheStreet.com and now President of Connectiv Media, an email newsletter marketing consultancy, whether CBS Marketwatch premium content would on its own induce anyone to sign up for Yahoo's new Platinum service. They thought not.

Martin's response:

"It's a nice press release for both parties, but that's all. I am skeptical that:

"1) MarketWatch produces enough in the way of "actionable" content that investors would be willing to pay for. Don't get me wrong, MarketWatch is a great site, but investors go there for fast news and tools -- not actionable insights.

"2) Investors want their actionable investment commentary/advice delivered in a multimedia format.

"3) Yahoo! Platinum's sweet spot will be in finance. Seems to me that users would be more willing to pay for sports and entertainment content, and I bet that Yahoo! will position the product and its marketing budget appropriately."

Stockman's reply:

"MKTW's content by itself will not induce many, if any, people to buy either the basic or premium service -- people pay for financial advice, not financial news, which is a commodity. I don't see how that's any different than Yahoo!'s previous efforts in the financial new area (FinanceVision), that failed. I do, however, think that the other entertainment-oriented content will see some demand, as evidenced by RealNetwork's success in garnering 900,000 or so subscribers.

"Yahoo!'s strategy this time around makes a lot more sense in that they are minimizing their own programming costs and maximizing their chances of acceptance by leveraging existing content brands with proven demand -- that's the key difference this go around. Moreover, Yahoo! doesn't need to get an enormous sell-through rate to make this a success -- if they convert only 1% of their registered user base (which I think is well over 200 million), that would be 2 million subscribers, which I would assume would be more than enough to make this a success.

"Finally, Yahoo! has established that they can sell subscriptions given that they have already garnered over 2 million paid subscribers to their various paid services. The ultimate streaming product might not look exactly as it does today, but I have no doubt that all of the major portals will offer something like this in the near future."

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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