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It Always Fails, So … — Why Now?
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It Always Fails, So …

… let’s try it again.

CNN reports that News Corp is going for an epic FAIL: Murdoch: Web sites to charge for content

(CNN) — Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch expects News Corporation-owned newspaper Web sites to start charging users for access within a year in a move which analysts say could radically shake-up the culture of freely available content.

Speaking on a conference call as News Corporation announced a 47 percent slide in quarterly profits to $755 million, Murdoch said the current free access business model favored by most content providers was flawed.

“We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning,” the News Corp. Chairman and CEO said.

“We have been at the forefront of that debate and you can confidently presume that we are leading the way in finding a model that maximizes revenues in return for our shareholders… The current days of the Internet will soon be over.”

Media from the New York Times to the Northwest Florida Daily News have tried charging for content, and failed miserably as their web sites disappeared from everyone’s bookmarks, and links didn’t appear at high traffic sites. Their ad revenue plunges, and they stop doing it when they realize that they aren’t even covering costs, much less making profits. The Wall Street Journal can charge because it is a niche market product that is important to people with more money than sense.

The problems that newspapers are having are the logical result of the orgy of media consolidation with borrowed money. Inflated prices were paid and the money that is generated can’t cover the loan amounts. It is the debt, not the product that is killing newspapers.

I don’t read anything in his empire, so I’ll just sit back and watch them fail.


1 Kryten42 { 05.07.09 at 7:54 pm }

But Bryan! It makes perfect sense in the current economic climate with people having so much disposable income to… Oh, wait! Hmmmm.

I’d say ‘What are they thinking’, but that would be endowing upon them an ability they are demonstrably lacking.

My 2c: Let them do it! The sooner they die the better for us all. 🙂

2 Bryan { 05.07.09 at 8:10 pm }

I assume he will do it, and it will fail. I can wait. I can’t imagine who would subscribe to The Sun on line, I wouldn’t read it if it was left on the Underground. He will probably get some people for the Times, but I can see his competitors getting ready to pounce on his ‘Net advertisers.

3 Steve Bates { 05.07.09 at 11:28 pm }

Let Murdoch try. Someone has to lose a lot of money to prove what we already know: that people will not, by and large, pay money for internet content beyond what it costs them to connect. I cannot imagine anything so unique to his sites… yes, even including WSJ… that I would have to pay to visit and view them. If it’s news, it will appear on the advertising-funded sites as well.

Nothing would please me more than seeing living proof that the free market admits of more than one way of profiting from one’s enterprise… and choosing the way that I perceive as most beneficial to myself and to the economy as a whole. Even Murdoch may yet have a lesson to learn (or fail to learn) in that department.

4 Bryan { 05.07.09 at 11:39 pm }

The New York Times tried it not that long ago and it was a spectacular failure. It might have worked back before they cut their reporting staffs to the bone and actually had news, but the current frenzy of cost cutting has left them with little to bargain with.

5 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 05.07.09 at 11:40 pm }

…given the likely clientele for any or all of News Corp.s’ services, I strongly encourage Rupert to charge right up to the edge of what the market will bear for all of his on-line services. The less money his patrons have to devote to wingnut causes and candidates, the better…

Jack K., the Grumpy Forester´s last blog post..When They Say It’s Not About The Money

6 Bryan { 05.08.09 at 12:07 am }

Let him learn what it’s like in the free market, when there is real competition, and see how people value his content. I think it will be interesting, and another possible choice for a pool, i.e. how long until the project admits failure.

7 LadyMin { 05.08.09 at 10:27 am }

Murdoch said the existing Internet business model was “malfunctioning.”

Obviously he doesn’t understand how the internet functions. Unless he intends to have some unique, compelling content that is unavailable anywhere else, no sane person would pay for access to his sites. This thing called google can search the globe for … um… free content. Maybe someone will tell him about it.

LadyMin´s last blog post..Garden Therapy

8 Bryan { 05.08.09 at 1:35 pm }

He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but I’m more than happy to watch him fail. If you can’t attract visitors to a free site, they certainly not going to show up if you make them pay.

9 hipparchia { 05.09.09 at 8:04 pm }

i second the grumpy forester solution.

hipparchia´s last blog post..

10 Bryan { 05.09.09 at 9:50 pm }

This move will have all of the success of Fox News … which seems to be losing market share to the Cartoon Network or something.