The UK Times paywall the future for newspapers? Special
Account Director of Creative Jar, James Harding offers his opinion about the Times paywall and the future of pay-per-page publishing.
Account Director James Harding has been watching developments at the Times in the UK with interest.
He admits that
"On the face of it, it doesn’t appear that the pay wall is working for the Times"
But, after reading various opinions on why the publishing model is dead, Harding believes there may be some future in pay -per-page publishing.
"When the move to a subscription model on the website was first announced, it appeared to be a desperate last throw of the dice from an outdated organisation in its death throes. News International was swimming against the flow of consumer demand and Rupert Murdoch didn’t understand the online medium. The naysayers were quick to pronounce that both were doomed.
Then, as the launch of the iPad was announced, The Times was one of the first publishers to release a paid for App. This made a lot more sense because tablet devices are the future for publishers. By setting expectation from the start that content on the shiny, new iPad platform is paid for, it gives publishers the chance to regain some control ceded to web users with their "free content” mindset and generate revenue from the high quality journalism at their core.
If the iPad (and other tablet devices) do represent the future, and this is what underpins the publishing strategy for The Times, free content on the web would have been an anomaly, so it's a smart – if unpopular -- move to erect a pay wall and eliminate this problem. The question will be how quickly consumers adopt tablet devices and how long News International can sustain this controversial strategy."
He went on to say Rupert Murdoch has bet a lot on a high risk strategy before. "In the nascent digital TV market, he gave away free set top boxes and dishes to consumers to drive uptake of Sky digital, weighing up this initial outlay against the life time value of a customer.
He backed himself and bet the business on the fact that once people experienced Sky’s premium, multichannel TV offering with sports and movies, they would not want to go back to the dark old days of terrestrial TV."
Because of this move, 21 years on Sky now has nearly 10 million customers and returned an operating profit of £780 million for the 12 months to 30 June 2009.
Is history about to repeat itself?