— Posted in Internet Culture

Why the Pay Per View News Site Model Won’t Work

Yesterday I read this article about how 90 days after NewsDay.com put up a pay wall it had managed to gather a meager 35 subscribers.  And I have to say I wasn’t surprised.  I am sure no one was…I mean how far fetched is the idea that people won’t be that keen on the idea of paying for something that is available all over the place for free.  So if this seemed so elementary to myself and pretty much the whole rest of the world sans 35 people, why isn’t it that obvious to Rupert Murdoch one of the most successful men in the world?

The reason is simple.  Big media has still yet to accept their business model will stop failing when they give us what we want the way we want it.  Television, Radio and Newspapers have all been hit with huge losses in the last few years.  The reason for each is the same the internet.  Audiences have diminished and ad revenues and jobs have been lost right along with it.  But I think what has really happened to big media is they have failed to seize a huge opportunity by being scared of change.

When Newsday launched this big plan to charge for news Rupert Murdoch went so far as to say that he was going to shut down Google from taking their content for free when speaking about Google indexing his content in their search results.  The problem with this kind of short sightedness is that he failed to recognize that if Google doesn’t know you exist….you basically don’t.  No matter how people feel about Google it has become home base for basically anything we do in our lives.  So if you choose to stop Google from indexing you, you have just told a large part of the population I have no interest in you knowing about my business and with so many choices out there it’s an easier choice for the consumer to just say next.

The other thing I think they failed to really think through is exactly what their product is it is essentially just information.  Information is available everywhere these days in fact it’s to the point where we are on information overload.  We have news sites, cable shows, network news, local news, bloggers, i-reporters, John Stewart and 800 other ways we get the news shoved at us daily.  So the reality is there is just nothing in this day and age that Newsday.com will cover that a ton of other people won’t as well.  For any given subject there are tons of articles out there that give any point of view so why would anyone pay Newsday.com $5 a week just to hear another one?

The moral of the story is big media has to give up the fight at somepoint if they want their audience back.  They have to start providing content the way we choose to receive it and the sooner they do the sooner they can get back to making money.  Big media has lived in a world of little to no competition for a long time and they have to change a lot of things in a big way to compete it is still yet to be seen if that will happen or if our grand kids will be asking what TV was and what a newspaper is.

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