News Corp to charge for content
Has anyone else got a sense of deja vu?
A few years ago, it was all about free content online. The idea of paying for any content online was laughable. It would never work, we sniggered.
Then things changed. Companies realised that the dot-com bubble had burst and investing thousands and thousands in websites with little or no return was no longer sustainable. Something had to be done.
Subscription walls went up. Content became paid-for. Readers either drifted away to the remaining free sites – of which there were many – or stumped up the subscription fees to continue to access the sites they wanted. Traffic to websites probably saw the inveitable decline once the fees were introduced, but that didn’t deter companies from trying it out anyway.
Then, the reverse. Sites went free again. Extras, such as archives over a certain date, remained “premium” subscription, but most of the websites, with their current content, were free to access – this website included. And traffic no doubt climbed as we all laughed (again) at the concept of charging people for access to content that they would just go elsewhere for should the price prove just a little too high.
This week, Rupert Murdoch announced News Corp’s website are to charge for content from next year. That means everything from the Sun to the Times in London will soon be fee-paying for readers to access, although it’s not exactly clear just how the charges will be imposed.
It’s not the first time that Murdoch has taken the internet to task. Back in March, he threw down the gauntlet to Google over “poaching” content.
But is a return to straightforward subscriptions really the answer? Or will web users simply go elsewhere for their news?