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1 June 2010

Will the Rupert Murdoch paywall plan for The Times be a success?

Tim Gibbon, director Elemental By Tim Gibbon

.net magazine asks Elemental whether a subscription fee for online content will be a success

The design and technology magazine asks Tim Gibbon whether a subscription fee (a paywall for the The Times and The Sunday Times) for online content will be a success for Rupert Murdoch's News International.

 

Tim's comment: 

"The publishing industry (along with broadcasting) has been experiencing extremely challenging times of late, and the recession is the last thing it needed to intensify the situation. Pagination is lower and advertising is even thinner, so what do you do when an industry is in turmoil and there are wages to be paid?

 

The argument that users paying for online content means that the quality and the notion journalists raising their game and providing superior services are admirable. However, it’s a competitive market with many pure-play online publications being profitable, in some circumstances competing head-to-head with traditional broadcasters and publishers with very different appealing models, particularly the free variety.Screenshot for .net the big question - Will Rupert Murdoch's paywall plan succeed?

 

The move is certainly a bold one, especially as we have been experiencing the ‘free’ and meme culture easily for the last three years or so (and that being even more set and expected amongst certain demographics). Consumers openly state that they don’t (or won’t) have a problem sourcing similar content elsewhere for free, so we may see the quality, loyalty and familiarity of what is known, even trusted not being a factor high on their agenda.

 

Only time will tell what such a move by Rupert Murdoch may unfold for the News International Corporation, amongst so many other battles it has to fight regarding content and the digital landscape. Are the price points right, or will they take another look at it and readjust if it’s not having an impact?

 

Will the content and quality of journalism ring true for this publisher and even improve - this will be quite an important factor in the minds of paying consumers. Can the strong influence human nature be interrupted and a new mindset be introduced educating the consumer to the benefits of paying for content, and why they should? We will have to wait and see how much Murdoch can hold his nerve and market this effectively and the truest test of digital consumer behaviour possibly to be witnessed for a while."

Tim's feedback first appeared in .net print magazine (issue 202 in June 2010). See Rachel's reply to the question here. 

Categories: Technology, News, Elemental

Tags: .net, .net big question, Q&A, paywall, The Times, The Sunday Times, Rupert Murdoch, tim gibbon, online content

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