Paywalls are a hot topic in mainstream media right now, but they're nothing especially new. The Wall Street Journal, for example, has been hidden behind a paywall for years, as have hundreds of niche news outlets.
On the whole, subscriptions to those sites haven't fared well. The New York Times -- which recently launched a hybrid program that meters visitors' reading -- attempted to institute freemium services before, but the numbers were terrible. And things ain't looking so good for Rupert Murdoch's new The Daily, either. But Major League Baseball is an exception to the rule: MLB has hit a home run (ahem) with its subscription video service, and Volvo is trying to tap that to its advantage.
For the entire month of April, Volvo is offering baseball fans access to MLB TV's streaming video via their iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android devices. Apple owners will have unlimited access to the action, while those using Android can view one game per day. Since the service costs up to $25 a month, that's nothing to sneer at -- although fans will still need to download MLB's At Bat app, which runs $15. Volvo will run also run ads during broadcasts.
We're not entirely sure that the public associates Volvo with baseball -- that's more of a Chevy thing, really -- but the young, mobile demographic could be a good match for the brand, and Volvo's campaign certainly plays into the public's well-documented desire for free internet news. (Lincoln recently garnered headlines by offering 200,000 free subscriptions to the Times' new subscription service.) With a little luck, this could be a big hit (ahem, again).