Time may be up for TimeOut Chicago

I have some bones to pick with TimeOut Chicago. None of it has to do with the reporting, which I find to be top-notch (especially the theatre coverage)

A couple of years ago, I bought a copy of the fairly new TOC on the newstand. I was lured in by their sexy color pages, and their EXPANSIVE theatre coverage. At least one major article a week to lead off the section, plus a ton of reviews, and some pretty comprehensive listings. Plus, those sexy color pictures of shows either being reviewed or already in performance. What's not to love?

So I subscribed. And I LOVED it. I relished getting that copy a full 24 hours before other people. Whether it was a friends show I was anxious to see the review on, or one I was working on, it was nice to know I had a mini-insider pass to see what was thumbs up/down first. Plus the rest of coverage is great - specials on Chicago neighborhoods, new restaurants, new movies, books, music...Every Wednesday after getting home from work I would devour the copy from cover to cover.

Since becoming a subscriber I've had 2 big moments of pause.

First, about 2 years ago, they were running a special for NEW subscribers. $9.99 for the year, sign up now, limited time offer. I went to renew my subscription not long after that.... still the usual $19.99 (which yes, is a BIG savings from the newstand --- but there's something to be said for trying to maintain your current subscribers, you know?). Well, I wanted to support the one publication that I thought was giving the most comprehensive theatre coverage, and so I bit my tongue at the time and paid my $19.99. And since that time, I've renewed at that price again. Yep, no specials for the long time valued customer.... oh well what can you do?

The second....
This one is tough because it's a BIG direct crticism of my favorite section - theatre.
It's not content, word count, or coverage...
It's the exclusivity I used to enjoy by BEING a subscriber that is now gone.
Every Monday, when I hear that the latest reviews are up at TOC.com, a small dagger pierces my heart. And the daggers pierce again on Wednesday, when I get home, pick up my new copy of TOC, and I know that THOUSANDS of people were able to read those reviews before I did, and they were able to do it for FREE.

TOC, I love you, and I love your coverage.
And Mr. Vire, sir, you know that I think you (and Chris before you) do a BANG UP job of getting the maelstrom that is Chicago Theatre tamed once a week so that it's pleasant to the eyes.

However, when my current subscription runs out, I won't be renewing.
Why pay 20 bucks for what others can get for free?

I agree that online content is the wave of the future, and is a completely necessary item. I'm not looking for that feature to be taken away by any means. But making your content available to non-paying customers before the paying ones is seriously a slap in the face. Why can't the online reviews be posted at midnight on Wednesday? or first thing Thursday morning to conincide with the copies being on the newstand?

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