Starbucks to offer WSJ for free this fall

Matt Bowman · August 13, 2010 · Short URL:

Coffee chain is betting that free subscriber content will boost the power of its psycho-magnet

It’s Friday. At some point today, you’ll get the urge for an end-of-the-week, longish break to do some of that leisure reading you heroically denied yourself for the last five days. Troll the headlines, check Facebook, that sort of thing. You do it often, but come this fall, the experience will change.

On a Friday this fall, the balance in the back of your brain will tilt more towards Starbucks. There'll be a stronger magnetic draw... because of those damn keys.

You know them. You’re as cheap as I am, so you refuse to pay for online access to the Wall Street Journal, preferring to get around it with Google News and derivative blogs.

But ah, now you'll have another way to one-up Mr. Murdoch and get his, perhaps you hate to admit it, superior content for free. And it costs nothing more than your usual cup of coffee.

That's the psychology that Starbucks is betting on, anyway, and I think they're on to something.

In addition to free Wifi (which was always there, provided you had a Starbucks card with a balance), the company is boosting its "third-place" appeal with the Starbucks Digital Network, which will offer customers unfettered access to the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and New York Times in its stores, not to mention free Apple's iTunes downloads.

It'll also have a Local channel that includes information about local schools compliments of Donor's Choose, and complete Zagat reviews of restaurants.

You can also count on a Business & Career channel with content from Yahoo, and a Wellness channel filled by Rodale (publisher of health magazines like Runner’s World and Women’s Health), which I guess some people care about.

Starbucks is not charging for the content, and no money is changing hands between Starbucks and the publishers. Starbucks will attempt to upsell browsers, and will share revenue with the publishers in case of a sale. Meanwhile, publishers get a promotional outlet, and the coffee stop gets a magnet for more customers.

For more, check out Mashable's interview with Starbucks' Vice President of Digital Ventures Adam Brotman.

image credit.


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