Free is, like. so over… apparently
A bit more light has been shed on News International’s plans to charge for online content. James Harding, editor of the London Times, disclosed yesterday that his newspaper plans to charge for 24-hour access alongside a subscription model. Will it work?
A lot of the debate following Harding’s announcement has centred on his dismissal of the micropayment model which was flavout to jour among paid content gurus earlier this year. But things change fast. These days, everyone’s talking about loyalty clubs, premium services, bundling different content packages to attract different kinds of users…
One thing is absolutely sure. The days of unlimited access to all the newspapers in the world are numbered. Critics of NI’s strategy say Times readers will simply migrate to telegraph.co.uk or the BBC. But what if the Telegraph starts charging? And all the other British national press titles go along (the Guardian is the only one which has unabashedly stuck to its guns as a defender of free content)?
In that case, different users will probably react in different ways. The longstanding, older reader loyal to a particular title, who may have switched some of his/her reading habits online in recent years, will probably either stump up or go back to dead trees.. Younger users, used to surfing across multiple sites, will balk at paying for access to just one and migrate towards whatever’s left free. And then there are lots of people in the middle: who knows what they’ll do? What do you think?
NB: For a trenchant attack on Murdoch’s plans to delist from Google, read Jeff Jarvis’s ‘Nose, face, cut, spite: Blocking Google’