Friday, March 26, 2010...7:14 am

Murdoch makes good on paywall promise

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It seems Rupert Murdoch is actually going to start locking away his online newspaper content behind paywalls. From June he’s going to charge for access to the loss-making Times and Sunday Times.

Will the gamble work? More informed commentators than I have argued strongly that it won’t (though that hasn’t stopped me doing the same).

At £2 a week, access is not that expensive, but I suspect News International will have to make it smooth and easy for users to pay if they want to get much take-up.

Will the increase in revenue from committed readers make up for the loss in advertising revenue if his traffic drops sharply? It’ll be fascinating to see. The fact that the papers lose money at the moment makes me wonder how compelling the content actually is – and if it is so compelling, why can’t he make a profit on it anyway?

But given my place in the media, on this one I guess I could stand to be proved wrong…

1 Comment

  • It is extraordinary/fascinating, isn’t it? Are we watching an iTunes moment… or a self-inflicted public suicide?

    I’ll nail my colours to the mast and predict failure. Not for any of the many excellent reasons that you and others have identified (although I think they’re all correct), but for a far simpler one:

    People have been rejecting newspapers, in ever greater numbers, for about 30 years. They were doing that before the internet came along to disrupt the business.

    What makes anyone believe that folks will want to pay for a product online that they’ve been steadily rejecting in print?

    The problem, for news journalism, is not the internet. It’s that people apparently don’t want the product, whatever media it’s delivered in.

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