Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Newspapers and their pay walls

Is news really worth paying for?

Well, unsuprisingly one newspaper bosses think it is, but unfortunately readers and other journalists think otherwise.

Now, as many people know, hiding news content to readers (unless they are charged for it), is known as using a paywall and Mr Rupert Murdoch (who is some chap who owns a company called NewCorp - a company that took a $3.4 billion net loss in 2008, down from net income of $5.4 billion in 2007) thinks that this will make him some money. Well... he's correct.

So... how will they actually charge for this service? Well one way would be to have a subscription service such as the economist website and the other one is to use Micro-payments (e.g via a service such as http://bitcents.com/)

Putting up a pay wall for the New York Times or The (London) Times WILL make some money. But will it kill off his online readership (and therefore his small but constant advertising revenue) in the process? Quite possibly!

There are a lot of industry observers such as myself who think this will fail, most notable including Steve Outing, who shows statistical evidence from the USA that newspaper execs "remain delusional about how charging for online content"

But its not just observers who think this is a bad idea [bad joke: its also Observers]

Emily Bell from the Guardian, back in August said

No – we are not contemplating a pay wall, nor as far as I’m concerned would we ever….they are a stupid idea in that they restrict audiences for largely replicable content. Murdoch no doubt will find this out – even rudimentary maths suggests he will struggle with a completely free model to meet advertising revenue levels across the NI offerings.

And even Google CEO Eric Schmidt says that is is unlikely that a paywall model will work because news content is now so ubiquitous across the web.

Time will tell.....

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