The NYT is reporting that Dow Jones & Co. is buying CBS MarketWatch.com for $486 million U.S. MarketWatch is a free site, whereas Dow Jones is big into subscription-based services.
That's where it gets interesting. Read this excerpt from the story:
The acquisition of MarketWatch, a free news site at cbsmarketwatch.com, marks a major strategic shift for Dow Jones, which until now had focused its online efforts almost exclusively on paid subscription services like The Wall Street Journal Online, one of the few successful subscription-based news Web sites.
That model, however, limited the company's ability to cash in on the recent surge in online advertising because the site's audience is confined to subscribers, who number about 701,000. In comparison, CBS MarketWatch's site had 5.8 million unique visitors in September, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
Size matters when you're trying to flog ads.