According to a recent study, we're not overly impressed with Rupert Murdoch's plans to charge for usage of his online news sites. Of 2,000 people asked if they would ever pay for online news, 9 out of 10 said 'No!' ;.Does that signify Murdoch's decision to charge users to access his news sites is foolish?
I wouldn't pay for news, either, unless...
If I were asked 'would you ever pay for online news?', I could possibly say 'no', too. All things considered, within an age once we can usually read about major events on Twitter before some of the news channels report them, why would we ever want pay for access with their content? However, I would, and often do, pay for quality and 'luxury' news. I would not pay a cent for one of the shrinking quantity of free newspapers passed out on my way to work in a morning, but I would pay for a Sunday broadsheet with all its extras and trimmings (even although chances of me actually reading greater than a few pages are extremely small).
I've been known to sign up to a paid members' area on the website of a certain football team (which shall remain nameless) to get access to extra content not on the main 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. You will find usually only about 2 paragraphs in each image-dominated article anyway. It only costs a couple of pennies to buy the genuine article so there wouldn't be much value in using its site. The Times? Maybe, but only if other quality news outlets starting charging, otherwise I'd just choose the free one.
Utilizing a Credit Card for a 20p Article?
I'm unsure how much Mr Murdoch wants to charge his users to read a write-up, but I'm guessing there will be some kind of account that needs setting up. I certainly couldn't be bothered to have my wallet out each time I wanted to read something and I will be very hesitant to commit to subscribing. On one other hand, if they had a similar system to iTunes Bangladesh Newspapers, whereby you just enter your password to get access to a paid article and your card is billed accordingly, which may make much more sense. But, if I had to achieve that for each major news provider, it would become very tiresome.
Ultimately, they are often shooting themselves in the foot for some extent. If the site makes it harder and less convenient for me to read a write-up, I'll probably go elsewhere. I would believe that I would always have the ability to read the news headlines free of charge on the BBC's website, which would not be good news for the advertising revenue of the Murdoch online empire.
Let's assume that I just wanted to read a write-up on a paid site so badly that I handed over my credit card details to them, what would stop me 'reporting' on what this article said on my freely available blog? I would imagine it will be very difficult for a newspaper group to stop tens and thousands of bloggers disseminating the data freely with their users who would gain lots of traffic in the process.
Recipe for Success?
The success or failure of paid news is in the method used to charge and engage with users, assuming that the users value the information highly enough to deem it worth paying for. The jury is definitely still from the entire concept and the odds are that numerous will endeavour and fail before a profitable system is developed. Until then, we'll have to wait and see.
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