Can Local Member Clubs Work? New York Magazine Tries Again

Local media companies have long looked to membership shopping and entertainment clubs, akin to Amazon Prime, as a way to reflect a deeper relationship with the local community and boost retention.

The New York Times, for instance, once offered its members discounts to Coney Island Cyclone baseball games and New York Public Library events. The Los Angeles Times also pushed hard on memberships for subscribers, offering cheap movie tickets. Capital New York also built an audience base around a culture-oriented club prior to its sale to Politico.

New York Magazine has also had a club, and is now giving it a new push under new CEO Pam Wasserstein, who gave a great interview to Nieman Lab. The new version of the membership program launched with Amazon Prime-like pricing in November: $9.99 a month or $99 a year. It has been serving a couple of hundred members in soft launch, and complements several long running “new revenue: areas at New York, including restaurant, wedding and shopping verticals, email newsletters and sponsored video.

“It’s an effort to serve, primarily, our New York City-based audience that turns to New York for discovery of what’s new, what’s next, what’s cool, what’s insider-y in the experience of living here,” Wasserstein told Nieman Lab. “It’s oriented toward unique experiences — either ones that we are creating ourselves or, often, ones that we’re curating and arranging for special access for members.”

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