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Aug 10, 2009

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To be fair, my main point was that, via News Corp, he has a ton of other content he could put on these sites if they were behind a paywall. I absolutely accept that he's not going to be successful charging for me-too news.

You say "Murdoch ... should work out the not unfathomable answer to more effectively monetising 18 million-plus visitors to The Sun’s website."

No one else has fathomed it - so why does everyone assume that (a) it can be fathomed and (b) it's not more profitable to do it some other way.

Imagine if the Sun Online was not The Sun paper put online but a portal of celebrity and sport videos and content - more like the red button on the Sky remote control. That might be worth paying for ...

Likewise, his pay model doesn't have to be browser arrives, browser hands over credit card, 20p deducted.

Bundling these subs with existing services (EG Sky broadband) seems a quick route to scale and success to me.

Fair point Malcolm - and thanks for responding. Perhaps I focused too much on your point about "exclusive stories" - the kind that have been conspicuously absent from the tabloids for the duration of their slow decline thus far.

I've heard other people suggest a subscription to The Sun could be a value-add, bundled with a Sky subscription or that gated communities could host paid-for sports clips, or episodes of the Simpsons, or anything from Murdoch's empire, but then that isn't saving the newspaper industry so much as entirely redefining what it does, or graver still putting a distracting ribbon on its casket. And even then I remain unconvinced such a move would ever drive an overall increase in revenues.

As for fathoming how to make money from 18 million unique users, there are plenty of successful, commercial businesses still bringing in ad-revenues from free-clicks where they have the understanding, online heritage, credentials and ability to make that sell compelling. However, too many newspapers still regard their own online offerings as inferior - the B brand - so what are consumers and advertisers to think?

Free subscription could be one way forward, at least harvesting age, location, salary, data in the process and therefore providing more clearly defined demographic information to advertisers - eg. 5 million UK-based males aged 25-45, earning £25k+; the sort of thing advertisers start to get excited about (a crude example, I admit, in the interests of time and space). Let the advertisers pay to ring-fence the community, not the consumers. Though even the introduction of free subscription will see a tailing off in numbers.

It's a great debate though and I look forward to seeing how it pans out. Thanks again for your comment.

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