Reports are that the NY Times is close to making a decision around charging a $5 a month fee for users to access their content (discounted to $2.50 for print subs)
I’m unsure whether users will, generally, pay for stuff they can get for free elsewhere but it’s widely considered that if any group can pull this off it’d be the NYT.
Will be interesting to see where it all goes and raises the questions, could any AU masthead brand expect users to pay for their content.
The NYT is a lot more than AP feeds and slideshows. The content is deep, rich, informative and credible.
Could, let’s say, the SMH or The Australian charge a sub fee for their digital product? Does it give them something they can’t get elsewhere?
And if a title like The Australian went sub-only, how many people would it need for it to be worthwhile? And how big is the potential subscriber pool?
I think it’s a small pool, tiny even. Neither site (or any news site) holds a user for more than 1 hour a month. Most are returning around once a week. Are you going to fork out money for something that really is a small part of your media consumption and you can still get elsewhere? It’s not like either title is a daily essential for the general user.
The sites that can probably look at premium models in some depth are those who
– have high engagement (ie time spent, pages views, repeat visits)
– deliver information that makes a difference in the readers day to day. ie – entertainment, humour, exclusive news or business intelligence
– provide strong, quality content that is always relevant to the reader
That rules out most brands. Many have one or two of the above qualities but none have all three.
If you’re not offering this it would be a hard slog, users will struggle to see the value.
The main large scale area that comes to mind is Business and Finance. Sport, Entertainment, General News will all struggle as there is simply too much supply in terms of digital in this country and all areas are serviced adequately by broadcast media.
Those with strong Business/Finance assets would be hesistant, especially after the disaster that was the AFR.com
Another question … if you are charging users for access is it fair to keep delivering the same stream of advertisements at them. There has to be a trade-off for these paying subs (ie you can’t just slap a sub fee on something that was free and not change the product)