Costing The Daily News

Rupert Murdoch has signalled his intention to begin charging for on-line news content. In the UK this should mean that the Internet editions of The Times and The Sun will now ask for some kind of payment either for all or specialized content access.

Obviously the newsprint media is desperate to halt its revenue decline but will this just hasten their ongoing decline in readership numbers and are they as deluded as the music industry in the self assessment of their own worth. And like the music industry are they clinging on to old models rather than embracing new alliances and innovation?
Advertising is no longer the financial crutch it once was and the vexed problem of monetizing on-line is a tough call for anyone that offers a service on the Internet to a world that has grown to expect free access.
And yes I’m one of those people who hasn’t bought a newspaper since sometime in the 90’s.
I’m happy to pay for on-line services like PressDisplay (surely the iPlayer of the on-line print media world) but if newspapers start building pay walls around their content rather than differentiating themselves from a sea of other news media alternatives then they could find themselves addressing a decidedly smaller niche market. That may or may not be enough to keep them viable.
Picture from Flickr under this creative commons license

2 thoughts on “Costing The Daily News

  1. It was interesting watching the News International rep on BBC News last night – he started off by insisting that “one million people pay for the Wall Street Journal”, which in itself isn’t quite true, what with many (most?) of their subscriptions being paid for by corporations who find the information useful.

    I find it surprising that Murdoch & NI seem to misunderstand the difference between the Wall Street Journal and The Sun so deeply – that they can’t see the difference between an authoritative 750 words on the Bulgarian oil market and 75 words about Posh Spice’s underwear advert aren’t identical.

    There’s two possibilities: one, they know that the papers are only going to get a tiny portion of their current audience, but have crunched the numbers and reckon that a few people paying something is better than nobody paying anything.

    Two: This was more about having a good story to tell the shareholders while announcing yesterday’s disappointing results, to make it look like there’s some sort of plan to dig the company out of its debt-scented hole. Pitch this now, hope the advertising market picks up, drop the idea quietly.

  2. I suppose it’s uncharted territory: until someone takes the plunge and tries it, they won’t know whether it works or not.

    The public is a strange animal and often reacts quite differently from predictions. It’s quite possible that if online news providers charge, people will pay, thinking they’re getting a better quality of news (even if it is only news about VB’s pants).

    But I don’t think “news” papers really sell on news. After all, you can get news off TV, radio and Google. Newspapers sell on “content” (e.g. I used to read the Financial Times but only the Martin Lukes column). Mostly they read papers that confirm their prejudices. Or in my case, I like papers with good sudoku puzzles; the rest is just the peel on the banana.

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