According to a current study, we’re not overly impressed with Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for utilization of his online news sites. Of 2,000 people asked if they’d ever buy online news, 9 out of 10 said ‘No!’ ;.Does that show that Murdoch’s decision to charge users to access his news sites is foolish?
I wouldn’t buy news, either, unless…
If I were asked ‘can you ever buy online news?’, I would probably say ‘no’, too. After all, in an age when we can usually read about major events on Twitter before some of the news channels report them, why would we ever want buy access to their content?
However, I would, and often do, buy quality and ‘luxury’ news. I would never pay a dollar for one of many shrinking amount of free newspapers handed out on my way to work in a day Nigerian Newspapers, but I would buy a Sunday broadsheet with all its extras and trimmings (even though the likelihood of me actually reading more than a few pages are incredibly small).
I’ve already been known to join a settled members’ area on the website of a particular football team (which shall remain nameless) to get access to extra content not on the key website: video interviews and press conferences, highlights of reserve and youth team matches, live radio commentary on match days.
Would I pay to read The Sun online? No. There are usually just about 2 paragraphs in each image-dominated article anyway. It only costs several pennies to buy the real thing so there wouldn’t be much value in using its site. The Times? Maybe, but only if all the quality news outlets starting charging, otherwise I’d just select the free one.
Using a Credit Card for a 20p Article?
I’m not sure just how much Mr Murdoch wants to charge his users to read an article, but I’m guessing there will probably be some sort of account that needs setting up. I certainly couldn’t be bothered to get my wallet out everytime I wanted to read something and I could be very hesitant to commit to subscribing.
On one other hand, if they had the same system to iTunes, whereby you only enter your password to get access to a settled article and your card is billed accordingly, that could make a little more sense. But, if I’d to do that for every single major news provider, it would become very tiresome.
Ultimately, they are often shooting themselves in the foot with a extent. If the site helps it be harder and less convenient for me personally to read an article, I’ll probably go elsewhere. I would believe that I would always be able to read the headlines free of charge on the BBC’s website, which would not be good news for the advertising revenue of the Murdoch online empire.
Assuming that I actually wanted to read an article on a settled site so badly that I handed over my charge card details for them, what might stop me ‘reporting’ on which this article said on my freely available blog? I would imagine it could be quite difficult for a newspaper group to prevent thousands of bloggers disseminating the information freely to their users who would gain a lot of traffic in the process.
Recipe for Success?
The success or failure of paid news is in the strategy used to charge and engage with users, let’s assume that the users value the information highly enough to deem it worth paying for. The jury is definitely still on the whole concept and the chances are that many will endeavour and fail before a profitable system is developed. Until then, we’ll have to attend and see.