Politico publisher acquires Capital New York; “new revenue streams” to come

Politico publisher Robert Allbritton has acquired the three-year-old news site Capital New York, the companies announced Sunday night.

Allbritton’s goal, Dylan Byers reported at Politico, is to “apply the POLITICO business model to New York City and ‘focus laser-like on New York and its power centers, including the media, city and state politics, culture and business.'” Capital New York currently covers New York politics, culture, media and sports.

Capital New York cofounders Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran will remain co-editors of the site, reporting to Politico cofounder and executive editor Jim VandeHei.

“This is going to allow us to get bigger and better,” Benson and McGeveran, who launched Politico after working as editors at the New York Observer, wrote in a blog post Sunday night. Capital New York will hire more reporters and editors, get a new design and “introduce new revenue streams”:

“We’ve always believed that journalism needs more than display advertising to support itself. With Politico, we’ll have the strategic and organizational muscle to tap into other revenue streams.”

It looks as if that new revenue model will include paid subscriptions: Politico reports that “Capital’s business model will rely on ads and subscriptions targeted at what Allbritton described as ‘the most influential readers in the core subjects it will cover.’ There are no plans to launch a print edition.”

It’s unclear what that subscription model will look like. Politico’s premium subscription product, Politico Pro, had about 1,000 organizations subscribing to it as of the spring. Subscriptions are expensive, in the thousands of dollars annually. Politico is also testing a metered paywall in six states and has been experimenting with sponsored content on its homepage.

It is also unclear how Politico’s advertising model would work for Capital New York. In a recent interview with my colleague Jeff Roberts, Politico’s VandeHei described that model: “This is a unique market where almost all of our advertising is advocacy advertising. Every person in this space feels Politico is the first stop they have to make to influence lawmakers.”

Capital New York, which has raised $1.7 million in funding, had 170,000 unique visitors last month, according to Quantcast statistics cited by the Wall Street Journal. Politico had 6.6 million unique visitors in August.