Hedonism in Retreat: FT 'How to Spend It' Now Free

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 10/01/2012 12:01:00 AM

[After many months going without one, dear readers I bring you an honest-to-goodness weekend feature.] The Financial Times has always been regarded as an excellent source of business news, hence it struck many as odd that it would cater to the upscale demographic by expanding its "How to Spend It" feature from the weekend editions into a full-fledged website. While FT readers are wealthier than the average newspaper readers in the same way that Yogi is smarter than the average newspaper reader, this online feature seemed odd for a number of contextual reasons.

First, the British have traditionally been far more circumspect than their American brethren about showing off their money. While Robin Leach of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous fame--he of champagne wishes and caviar dreams--was of course British, his tasteless vulgarity of a TV programme was of course produced Stateside where such crass fare is the rule and not the exception. Second and most damning of all, the "How to Spend It" website went live in 2009--just a few months after the global recession.

In these trying financial times, people will apparently spend on the FT's unparalleled business news coverage but not necessarily for its lifestyle features. After all, there are jillions of magazines and TV shows that have a similarly hedonistic focus--and that often give away such content for free. Apparently, the FT has decided it's time to emphasize that "How to Spend It" does not require a financial outlay--demonstrating that most web surfers do not intend to spend it by paying for access to the FT's sybaritic offering. I thus conclude they're looking at a mostly ad revenue-driven model, but I suppose three straight quarters of economic contraction in the UK have dealt away with champagne wishes and caviar dreams for the online offering.

So rejoice that we are all "free" to dream about living like the famously bling-bling Beckhams c/o the FT. Head here, dahling.

UPDATE: The "How to Spend It" folks have gently reminded me that the standalone website has been free since its launch. I think I got the impression that it only became so because that fact has been emphasized during this year's redesign. While such is probably the case, the juxtaposition of a gated financial news service (FT proper) vis-a-vis its free website devoted to the finer (and costlier) things in life remains curious.