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Times Website to go behind paywall

  • Thread starter Scottish Business Owner
  • Start date
Scottish Business Owner

Scottish Business Owner

New Member
It would appear that Rupert Murdocj is going ahead with plans and starting to make some of his news websites into paid models. The link below is to a BBC article that claims this will start in June.

BBC News - Times and Sunday Times websites to charge from June

It seems to have got mixed reactions with some saying they would be willing to pay and others at the other extreme saying there's absolutely no way they will pay for content that they can get elsewhere for free.

I'm not sure how this model works as I think it's likely that a sizeable majority wont pay. This then has a knock on effect to the Times in what advertisers are prepared to pay given that the site will have no where near the same amount of viewers/clicks etc.

I wonder where everyone thinks this model will go. Is this the future of the internet or do you think it will last six months and then they'll see that it just simply doesn't work. If that is the case then where does it go from here?
 
I wonder where everyone thinks this model will go. Is this the future of the internet or do you think it will last six months and then they'll see that it just simply doesn't work. If that is the case then where does it go from here?
Personally I think it's inevitable.

At the end of the day the creation and maintenance of media assets is an industry. And an industry that isn't monetised simply isn't sustainable.

If internet-based-media were a human destined to live 100 years then we are in the first few days of life. And by that I mean we've survived and thrived to an extent on the energies and nutrients that precede our birth... Like all legacies we can either build on that or feed off it. If we chose the latter course then we get to a point where those resources become depleted, there is nothing to pass on, and the body dies.

News International (NI) are making the right move here. But for all the wrong reasons and in completely the wrong way... So yes; the exercise may well be doomed to failure. And personally I'm of the opinion it is.

For instance we know that video content will be important to the future of online news 'papers'. Fair enough. Then such 'papers' need to invest in people with the right skills and, if they're expecting people to slap their pound on the table, people who are EXCEPTIONALLY skilled in that process.

This, however, isn't what Times Newspapers and others are doing. Instead they expect to send photographers on a week's course at ITN and that to somehow 'equip' them to carry out what is a highly specilised and complex role. For sure there are transferable skills there, but they're simply not enough to compete quality-wise with people who have spent years honing that particular craft.

We had (and still do to an extent) the same problem in broadcast news where 'the powers that be' decided 'self-op' news reporting was a viable option. It's not really; it's something you can do in limited circumstances, but ultimately all it does is produce amateurish footage that detracts from rather than enhances the story.

I could (but won't to save the blushes of friends) at least three 'online' newspapers that have taken to feeding stories in this manner.

One in particular (not a N.I. publication) springs to mind where the totally deluded in-house 'expert' just very obviously hasn't a CLUE about lighting, framing, camerawork... DOESN'T know how to use video! Visually his stories come out rather like the squacking of one of those slightly-crazy x-factor contestants. Clearly the man has great editorial skill, but 80% of what he's saying is lost in the translation to bad home movie. And I'm lead to believe they've now taken to moderating comments on his work, censoring those that point out that this particular 'king' is indeed in the altogether... Such, sadly, might well be the future of journalism!

People might tolerate that sort of thing when they're getting it for now't. But they're kidding themselves on if they think normal folk will pay for it!

I've cited video here simply because it is my own area of expertise and something I'm well qualified to talk authoritatively about. But I see the same pattern repeated throughout the industry.

I couldn't-easily do a press stills-photographer's job despite the fact that I'm a highly experienced TV news cameraman Nor could I do a reporter's job despite being an experienced documentary film maker... All of those roles being highly skilled ones that take years to develop. Yet organisations like N.I. just don't want to respect that.

They rattle on about being unable to sustain high-quality reporting teams without monetisation (which is a fair point) yet all the colleagues I speak to seem increasingly undervalued, overworked and disrespected... And they don't dare complain in public for fear of their jobs!

As I seem to keep repeating Jack-of-all-trades was master of none. And unfortunately with this move toward monetisation comes an erosion of skills, a disrespect for the contribution of individual roles and responsibilities... And a determined move towards fobbing off the public with journalism-on-the-cheap at a 'pumped up' price...

As I said; at the end of the day the creation and maintenance of media assets is an industry. And an industry that isn't monetised simply isn't sustainable. However this strikes me as a fairly desperate move on the part of an organisation that long-since sold its journalistic and production standards down the river. And actually hasn't identified the real reason why its business it going pointy-bits up...
 
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S

shredder

New Member
About time in my opinion! I hope it drives an increase in quality into the equation. I have no problem paying for content if it is good and relevant to me. The Times usually has about 250-260 articles a day and £2 a week seems good value.

What I hate about online charging is where a publisher thinks they can charge the same price for an online edition as a print edition, I expect a saving if they save on printing and distribution costs. Electronic books fall into this category I got a sony e-reader for xmas, love it, but hate having to pay the same price for a ebook as a print book, they should be cheaper.

For it to work though they have to make the buying process simple and convenient and trustworthy. I like the Apples Itunes process, its easy and simple but I hate other sites (e.g. companies house) where you have to enter card details followed by a verified by visa process to pay for a low cost product. I don't think the answer is an annual subscription either - I will probably pay £2 a week for the Times/Sunday Times but I wont pay £104 up front for a years subscription its just too much at a single point in time.
 
Adventurelife

Adventurelife

New Member
I cannot see it working. The numbers do not stack up. The numbers I am talking about are the number of subscribers that it will attract. We are all on journey of doing more and more online. We hopefully are all doing things faster and much more productive in the past. News is distributed in so many ways online it will only be a small number of fans who will pay for it via the Times or other papers sites.

Have a look at all those younger than most on here where are they getting their news and are they likely to pay for it? The advertisers are not going to pay the rates without the eyeballs.

Years ago I used to buy one of a Scotsman/Telegraph/Times each day. Then it reduced just to the Sunday edition now it s very rare I buy any.

Will I pay online? No. There are way to many distribution channels are rushing to get news out that means I get swamped by news.

So how do they make money? They need to adapt their business model and come up with ways of making profitable revenue.

Very hard to find a business that the internet is not having an impact on so we all have to do the same ,change our way of doing business and change it fast and chance are we will have to keep changing.

Of course their will be a market , their is a market for every niche you can think of online but the market will be small compared with their history.

Things are changing so fast it is hard to keep up. Best time to be alive ever in my opinion.
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Personally, I would be more than happy to pay a subscription for a reliable, high-quality website that provides accurate and relevant news (preferably Scotland-based). For me, The Times doesn't fit that description, but if the move encourages others to do the same, I'm in favour.

Mike
 
L

laserads.co.uk

New Member
If any paper is going to make this model work its THE TIMES , loyal readership , wealthy readership , specialist articles , worldwide brand name etc ....cant see the Daily Record managing to make money on the same model :001_rolleyes:
 
Somehow I'm reminded of a hapless student I had a few years back who was completing his entrepreneurial skills unit... He'd worked out he could earn £35k in his first year making cheap corporates. Sadly he hadn't figured on the shooting kit costing upwards of £15K, an Edit system about the same, and someone to assist him day-to day another £20K. then there was insurance, a vehicle....

No, the Times could have a subscription turnover of £8.3M....

According to... List of newspapers in the United Kingdom by circulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia It does 500K/copies per day... At £1 per copy... £3M a week or £156M per year...

And on THAT income base they're struggling! Worth noting too that they've lost around 1/3 of their ciculation since 2001... £8M is a drop in the ocean in relation to their costs!
 
Adventurelife

Adventurelife

New Member
Iain Dale on his blog has crunched some numbers and reckons the Times could make circa £8.3m p.a. if only 4% subscribe.
Iain Dale's Diary: Should I Follow The Times' Example?
Should be interesting to see how it works.
Falling into the trap of the majority of business owners. Revenue is interesting but the only thing that is reality is profit. £8.3m for a national newspaper online is a drop in the ocean! I could give you a list of names you have never heard off who do more than that.

They need a plan but this plan is not going to work

Peter
 
S

shredder

New Member
I agree with your comments re profit and revenue, although the cash position and net asset value of a business may be more important that annual profit, it all depends on the sector. Many successful investment business have low profits but a large or growing asset base.

I suspect Rupert Murdoch knows this too, News Corp reported profits of $254m for the quarter.

I just thought the Iain Dale post was interesting in the context of the topic and I think a lot of publishers of online content will be watching very closely. If its a success I would bet a lot more will follow his example. At the end of the day a producer of web content will have to pay for the costs of producing it through subscriptions or advertising or support it from an other income producing part of their business.
 
Adventurelife

Adventurelife

New Member
I agree with your comments re profit and revenue, although the cash position and net asset value of a business may be more important that annual profit, it all depends on the sector. Many successful investment business have low profits but a large or growing asset base.

I suspect Rupert Murdoch knows this too, News Corp reported profits of $254m for the quarter.

I just thought the Iain Dale post was interesting in the context of the topic and I think a lot of publishers of online content will be watching very closely. If its a success I would bet a lot more will follow his example. At the end of the day a producer of web content will have to pay for the costs of producing it through subscriptions or advertising or support it from an other income producing part of their business.
Totally agree 100% with you on asset base but any investor would look at the future not the past or current situation. The asset base can very quickly turn from being an asset to a liability. Example look at the last 24 months.

Of course every producer will be watching and I suggest hoping but it is just not going to happen. The web as unleashed a new dynamic business model that is moving so fast that traditional business models just cannot keep up.

As I mentioned we are not the market we are just those helping business models that will fail but fail slowly.Study teenagers and early twenties they are doing things differently!!
 
Canary Dwarf

Canary Dwarf

New Member
The Times is one of the best known news brands throughout the world and this is a test that must be watched closely by the publishing industry.

Murdoch will be trying to do one of two things: force readership back to his print titles or boost falling advertising sales.

He is an astute businessman, and he knows readership WILL plummet with his paywall model, but as a commercial enterprise, his ultimate aim will be to be profitable, and this move may make a difference to his bottom line.

But what he really needs to be doing in my opinion is separating the online product from the newspaper and developing it into a split-level multimedia platform. Breaking news should continue to be fed on an information basis as it will continue to be available through other channels. The entertaining stuff,: analysis, comment, investigation, ie, writing with value should be what goes behind the aywall if there's going to be one.

The phrase 'who would pay for what they can get elsewhere' is key. If he provides a value added product, people will pay. Not many perhaps, but it's the first rung on the ladder and others may follow. Remember, they're all in the same boat!

Think of the music industry, paid-for downloads are now commonplace, whereas once, record companies just complained about the internet killing their industry.

Today, newspapers are complaining the internet is killing their industry, but it is the industry that is killing itself by being too slow to adapt. Newspapers have never used the internet to its full potential.

If you look at statistics, newspaper sales have been declining pretty much on a straight line since the 1950s, long before the internet. Advertising has declined rapidly recently because of the recession, so the internet has not had such a 'disastrous effect' on the industry, and they should have seen this coming for a long time.

I believe the internet is the best thing that ever happened to the news industry if you remove the commercial element. But that's not to say it cannot be commercialised. As someone already said above, Businesses can commercialise anything if they put their mind to it.

And to commercialise it, publishers need to build new products, and define new markets.

It's a lot cheaper to run a website than print a newspaper and publishers should be building standalone internet products using the tools the internet provides and exploring ways of monetising them, so they can run alongside their print products and complement them. Instead they are (mostly) creating an internet version of the print model, with obvious consequences.

In doing this, they will learn some valuable statistics. And that just might be what they need to hone the model into a profitable one.

I don't believe the paywall model is right as it stands, but it is worth exploring. I think it will make some money, but I think it will damage print sales further. However, I wish them luck and I hope the exercise teaches the industry something valuable.
 
Adventurelife

Adventurelife

New Member
Some further take on the paywall issue on the below article. Makes quite interesting reading and maybe sheds a little light on where the model will go and could develop.

Roy Greenslade: Will Murdoch's paywall bring in the money? | Media | guardian.co.uk



The model will not develop unless the businesses involved are prepared to become small niche players.

You cannot stop a juggernaut that is rolling down a hill at high speed. Us 40 year old plus people do not matter we are learning the web discussing this and that about it. The youth do not , it has always been here for them and it just is! They are not going to pay for a newspaper online I can assure you of that. The news is not even news anymore , set up alerts in the right places and you have news before the papers have the chance to publish. This in turns makes editors heap huge pressure on researchers and producers of news to get it out quickly which obviously means they miss out the checks and balances that should be applied and hence the quality is being driven down.

So will people pay for news that is available else where and news that does not have the quality behind it? Some will but not enough and it is a one way road that is going to nowhere as far as a business model is concerned for a name like the times or any other national.

For any product that can be made digital ie the written word, photography ,film, music the world has changed everyone is a producer. Of course there are business models that can work in these sectors but they are not the ones that worked in the past.

Big companies never mind small ones are being and will be destroyed in these sectors unless they are innovative in the extreme
 
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