Loren Feldman becomes test case for paying for Web content

How many of you are ready to pay to view content on the Web? One online satirist and bad boy is ready to challenge the ethos that information has to be free.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
2 min read

1938 Media impressario Loren Feldman admittedly is an acquired taste. If you're on the receiving end of one of his skewering rants, I doubt you'll judge his monologue to be gut-busting hilarious. But the guy's fresh, and I confess to being a fan boy.

But would you pay for the privilege of knowing the latest bit of happenstance pissing him off?

Loren Feldman

We're about to find out. Starting Tuesday, Feldman will begin charging 99 cents to people who want view some of his videos and posts. Here's the link to his video entrywhere Feldman outlines his thinking.

I have no idea whether he can make a side business charging for the occasional post. Neither, apparently, does Feldman, who acknowledges swimming against the tide.

"Why am I doing this? Because I want to. It's an experiment. I know that most of 99 percent of you aren't going to pay 99 cents ever. So it goes. But you know what? Content has to be paid for at some point."

He may have picked a propitious time to put that proposition to the test. In 2001, the Pew Internet and American Life Project, said that half of the people it surveyed said they looked for free alternatives when a site they used asked them to pay for content. "Just 12 percent of them pay for the service and the rest just decide to stop getting that content or service from an online source." But by late 2007, Pew found that 28 percent of the people it surveyed paid to access or download digital content online. (That compared with 17 percent the year earlier.)

In the end, it's probably less an issue of cost than quality. Publish something that's worth viewing or reading and you'll find an audience--in cyberspace or even outer space.