Why Bezos’ plans for The Washington Post are exciting

amazonThe Washington Post is being offered cheap-as-free to users of Amazon Prime, in a move that might finally make sense of Jeff Bezos’ plans to couple the two together. Though the number isn’t absolutely certain, Prime is speculated to have over 40 million users in the US alone. If a decent proportion of that number were to take the Post up on the offer of free-for-six-months access to its digital edition, that could revivify the Post’s chances of growing its consumer base to huge scale.As Capital New York notes, “In the Prime foray, we see the wider Bezos strategy now playing out more clearly. Unsurprisingly, it is a profoundly Amazonian strategy: Build the customer base for years; reap the profits later. It is, we should note, also the driving philosophy of the Big Three of the digital news world, Vice, Buzzfeed and Vox Media.”

In a timely post, Ben Thompson of Stratechery suggests that growing to huge scale is, in fact, exactly what broad publications like the Post need to do: “Broad-based publications will obviously be ad-driven; to reach the maximum number of people a publication must be free. However, while broad-based publishers will likely continue to garner as much revenue from their websites as possible, as time goes on more and more revenue is likely to come from places like Facebook’s Instant Articles or the recently-rumored initiative from Google and Twitter to build an open-source alternative”.

And from Fortune’s Mathew Ingram: “What’s most interesting about the Prime move, however — and others that Bezos has made since he became the Post‘s owner — is that it shows the Post is focused on boosting its national and international readership.”

The Media Briefing