And none of those sites carried breaking news or the AP wire... Or had sports scores (ditto)...showed streaming video
First off, why doesn't the AP have its own site? Sport scores could easily be done via the main sports sites (NFL, MLB, FIFA, etc). There's plenty of sites doing streaming video: Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu do it varying ways, with embedded ads, but the web sites themselves don't need ads nor have them, other than self promoting, which is why you went there in the first place.
Then we get to where the content producers failed, wholesale, and we got the current morass of crap. Newspapers ignored the web, where in the early days they could have simply setup a paid tier and attached it to their subscription at a non-premium and reaped the rewards. Now they need advertising because they completely toasted the paid model. The RIAA did the same thing. They could have easily setup an iTunes like storefront for all their members' content non DRM'd since it already was on CDs, and killed Napster in its tracks. They failed and lost the ball. Same for the MPAA or book and magazine publishers. In each case, each failing was due to dismissing the new market and clinging to the old business model, missing the boat, and having their market obliterated by a much easier model for consumers. That model is now a free ad-supported model that pretty much removed all possibility of paid tiers thanks to these folks own short-sightedness.