Among all the critics out there I see very few people supporting Rupert Murdoch’s push towards paid-for content and fewer still saying they think it will work (including the large majority of people surveyed by this very blog).
But I’ve found one, swimming bravely against the tide.
“Murdoch's got the will to charge, access to value-add content, and has a lot of experience selling subscription products in the UK. The question is not whether he can charge - it's whether his competitors can match his content and experience.”
To paraphrase, what Coles appears to be saying is: of course he can charge, he’s Rupert Murdoch, he can do whatever he likes. And I agree with Coles in as much as of course Murdoch can charge. But Coles also seems to think it will be a success. On that point I don’t agree.
He is Rupert Murdoch - true - and that arguably makes him the most powerful man in the world but I believe single-handedly redefining the economics of the web are beyond even him.
But if News Corp’s stable of publications, most notably The Sun, was unable to produce compelling, exclusive content when they first got wind of the newspaper industry’s decline some years back why would their reaction now be any different?
Fundamentally, this comes down to Murdoch and Co's struggle to ‘get’ the web, possibly due to some bad advice which exists out there. Coles makes a final point about News Corp titles that I’d like to address:
What’s wrong with that idea?
Last year The Sun website increased traffic year-on-year by around 80%, given some month-on-month variance. Meanwhile The Sun’s newspaper circulation fell around 3 per cent. What this tells us is 1) the number of ‘Sun-readers’ is falling but the absolute number of people reading The Sun’s content is increasing, and 2) therefore it is benefiting greatly by readers finding its content via Google News and other aggregating technologies such as RSS.
Sue them? Murdoch should send them some Champagne and then work out the not unfathomable answer to more effectively monetising 18 million-plus visitors to The Sun’s website.