Expert views on Rupert Murdoch's online pay-to-view strategy

Thursday, 13 August 2009 - 4:39pm

"I don't think this is about what Rupert Murdoch wants. It is about what the consumer is prepared to pay for. And why would you pay when you can get the same thing somewhere else for free?

"It is clear that a paid online model already exists for unique, high value and well-differentiated content. However, we very much doubt that it is possible for publishers to charge for general news content when the same content is given away free by the BBC, Google News and others.

"We have no immediate plans to charge for content, but, like all media owners making investments in journalism, we certainly wouldn't rule out charging for parts of our content if it was to prove viable in the future.

"We have just launched, which offers unique content, a defined audience and engaged, passionate users. This enables us to develop a more diversified business model that does not rely solely on advertising. This, we believe, is the way forward for the foreseeable future."

Charlie Beckett, director of Polis, the LSE's new media thinktank

"I think Murdoch has been thin on detail and the devil is in the detail here. I don't have the absolutist stance that online paywalls [and payments] will never work. There is a slight myth around the concept that the internet is free, but the question is - what is in Murdoch's papers that I can't get elsewhere? It will rapidly boil down to a small amount of data, information and analysis and that is all.

"What he does have is some fantastically strong brands and perhaps he has some way where he might capitalise on that loyalty. It would have to be a minuscule payment, something people wouldn't notice, or substantial and wrapped into perhaps something like a Sky or broadband subscription. Some kind of bundling. News Corporation has been good at that in the past.

"However I suspect it is more likely to be some sort of premium offering to customers. He is in a strong position. If he gets some revenue out of it, while other newspaper groups are losing money full stop, even if it is not a break-through it may be enough while others face collapse."

Rob Grimshaw, managing director of ............