Friday, August 7, 2009...1:30 pm

Maybe we should make the BBC force us to pay for its web site

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There’s a good piece on about Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for News International’s web content. Part of this will be to charge for access to The Sun and the News of the World online.
How will he manage to do this?

“Just make our content better and differentiate it from other people. And I believe if we’re successful, we will be followed by all the media.”

Well, maybe. Anyone familiar with this blog knows I’m sceptical about the ability of general news media to charge for content to the extent that they need to. Sure, they may make some money from subscriptions online, but enough to fund an entire news operation? And enough to make up for the decline in advertising revenue that will come from having a much smaller readership?

As others have suggested, the real commercial model for media will probably come from added value services (maybe apps, maybe something else). I suspect the old menu of news and, increasingly, entertainment is just not different enough from the free alternatives.

And before anyone starts banging on about how the free stuff is no good, look at how many people happily read the crappy free newspapers on the train rather than buying a “quality” paper. People don’t see it as a problem for the most part.

But Murdoch himself acknowledges the key problem:

“Frankly, the big free competition will be coming from the BBC.”

Perhaps the solution is to force the BBC to put up a pay wall at the same time. That way we’ll see if users can be tempted to pay for news content when there’s no decent free alternative…

[HT: Jessica]

1 Comment

  • I read your post about News Corp’s recent announcement that it will now
    charge for online news content, where you outline the problems associated
    with the pay-for-content model. I think the following video will
    compliment your post:
    Like your blog, it uses coverage from multiple news sources to report on
    the implications of the announcement. The video features analysis about
    the merits of this venture from business and media experts. I hope you
    will consider embedding the video in Freelance Unbound. videos analyze news coverage of important issues from multiple
    sources. Its unique method of presenting how different media outlets are
    covering a story gives context to complex issues.

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