OwnZones Gets $500K for Media Paywalls

3/21/11

Hot on the heels of The New York Times’ new metered-access pay plan for digital content, Remond, WA-based OwnZones Media Network is touting an initial $500,000 round of financing. The investors were not disclosed.

The company says it’s building a digital content aggregation service based around charging consumers a monthly fee to access higher-quality material with more targeted, less intrusive advertising.

Now that the Times has taken the big leap, there are going to be scores of publishers in smaller markets looking for a way to charge an online gate fee and drive people back toward the more lucrative printed product. Third-party providers are clearly going to have a niche to exploit there.

As a longtime participant in and student of the news business, I am personally skeptical that we are headed for a widespread “era of paid Internet content,” as OwnZones says. The New York Times can probably pull it off. But most newspapers aren’t The New York Times. Publishers in the middle tier are trying to find a turnstile price for their content, and I think they’re going to be very disappointed at how low it is.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @

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