A couple of weeks ago we launched our first premium report, on the topic of Online Community Management. In an era of the Web where separating signal from noise is difficult, there seems to be a market for in-depth commercial content that goes beyond the daily free news cycle. Our friends at GigaOM launched a new product today that is worth checking out, as it aims to offer premium content for an annual subscription. Could we be seeing a return to 'paid content' in online media? It wasn't so long ago that the Wall St Journal was ridiculed for its refusal to close its paywall. Now it seems it's ok again.

GigaOM Pro is being marketed as "a subscription only service that allows you access to research and analysis by a team of GigaOM analysts, editorial curators and our in house editorial team." The service is being introduced at $79 a year, although this price will be increased as the content archive builds up. For this price, subscribers get access to Weekly Updates, "Long Views" (i.e. editorial features), Quarterly Wrap-ups, and Research Briefings and Notes from the GigaOM Analyst Network (a group of mainly independent analysts who presumably get some cut of the action from GigaOM). The product was built using WordPress' BuddyPress social platform.

I spoke to GigaOM founder Om Malik to find out more about the new offering. Om explained that the Analyst Network will go hand in hand with their blog editorial. While the analysts tend to gather the data and analyze that, the bloggers will "connect the dots" and offer extra analysis of the higher level trends. Om believes that there needs to be a closer link between analysts and bloggers in this media landscape. At ReadWriteWeb we have good relationships with analyst firms like Forrester and Gartner, so we certainly agree that the ecosystem has changed and that analysts and bloggers can co-exist happily.

Subscriptions services aren't without precedence in the blogging world. Some bloggers have supported themselves for a long time using subscriptions, for example Daring Fireball charges $19 per year for added extras such as full-content RSS feed. Ars Technica had a subscription service for a long time, although now that it's owned by Conde Naste it appears to have closed that. The most famous example of subscriptions in the new media world though is the Wall St Journal, which charges $1.99 per week ($103.48 per annum) for online only and $2.69 per week for the print and online editions.

These aren't large sums of money - $103 per year for WSJ.com and $79 for GigaOM Pro. The low pricing is because most consumers expect content on the Web to be free - we've become conditioned to this. We'll have to wait and see if subscriptions has legs among generally reluctant consumers and in the current market, but it's certainly worked so far for WSJ and so it's worth a shot by blogs.