News Corp Websites to Charge For Content?
posted at 1:34 pm on May 7, 2009 by Tanya
So Rupert Murdoch is indicating that News Corp is going to give the pay-per-view online newspaper model another shot. Ok, not per view, probably, but he does seem to think it’s going to make money. This time.
Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch expects News Corporation-owned newspaper Web sites to start charging users for access within a year in a move which analysts say could radically shake-up the culture of freely available content.
“We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning,” the News Corp. Chairman and CEO said.
“We have been at the forefront of that debate and you can confidently presume that we are leading the way in finding a model that maximizes revenues in return for our shareholders… The current days of the Internet will soon be over.”
Not that I don’t love the capitalistic tone, here, but I just don’t see how it can be done. It failed miserably last time. Most online papers can’t even get readers to willingly give up their gender, age and zip code for access — much less a credit card number. So unless a major newspaper has a rather specific theme, like the Wall Street Journal, what could it possibly offer that can’t be found for free at CNN.com or FoxNews.com or in the blogosphere?
Naturally, he’s focusing on WSJ first, which is his best bet.
He said 360,000 people had downloaded an iPhone WSJ application in three weeks. Users would soon be made to pay “handsomely” for accessing WSJ content, he added.
The Journal’s already expensive. Not sure how much more he thinks he can milk out of it, when he can no longer justify covering the brick-and-mortar offices and the cost of ink and paper. But it’s possible that he’s onto something with the iPhone subscriptions.
Amazon announced this week that it’ll be producing a larger Kindle, called the DX, which will target a new reading audience. Not the literature fanatics (like me) but the business and student demographic. Its larger, auto-rotation-equipped screen is better adapted for textbooks, and yes, newspapers.
This is a much better dynamic for Murdoch to follow, I think. And Amazon seems to agree.
On the newspaper front, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe plan to partner with Amazon to sell the Kindle DX at a reduced price in exchange for a subscription contract.
Desktop and laptop computer screens are perfect for reading graphic-heavy online newspaper content without going blind. But the iPhone, to an extent — and the mostly-text, black-and-white Kindle, much more — are a natural way to read a newspaper in its standard, old-fashioned format.
Any other great ideas for alternatives to the dead tree paper, to keep these guys from folding? Charge for the comics or the crossword or their own blogs? Charge for Sunday only? I wouldn’t be heartbroken to see the New York Times tank, but News Corp tends to run papers with less liberal bias. What can they do to save themselves?