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Online Content- Would you pay?


Online Content- Would you pay?

We all utilise online media these days, whether it be to grab a quick catch up of the overnight news before starting our daily work, or a quick read during lunchtime.

Currently this format of online media is free- whether it be the mainstream Fairfax sites or the local news sites such as  in Canberra.

I know some overseas media have started an annual user fee for such sites to offset the losses in print media’s decline, but this hasn’t (to my knowledge) been introduced here. What do you think about a’pay for use/access’ fee in Australia, as I am sure the time will come when the mainstream media and others will move towards such a position? It is just a case of who has the courage to go first and casue the potential site backlash or user decline. Obviously taking such a decsion will potentially impact readership, which will correlate to the potential reach of site advertisers, so it isn’t a simple charge or don’t charge scenario!

If an online site was to charge a modest monthly or annual fee (let’s say $1 per month- which is still substantially cheaper than print copies), would this change your behaviour, or would you see this as a cost of information and pay the fee?

I would be interested to hear your views?

Tony Ozanne

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4 Comments  comments 

4 Responses

  1. Hi Tony,

    Great post and really makes me think what the future is going to hold.

    Interestingly I believe that the considerable shift towards the online world would change lot of our assumption.

    One thing for sure is that the traditional media of print is surely suffering.

    Majority of the time if you want to have a good read, you need to have a good writer and a good team which cost money, There is limited amount of advertisement space one can sell on their website.

    So the option of having a small subscriber fee will reduce the no of readers however may help the company make profit.

    My 2 cents.

  2. Don Grgic

    Great question Tony. My initial reaction was no. However I don’t think there is a quick fix in this scenario as you bring up many points. Let’s face it, the newspapers don’t make any money from the paper itself, the charge is mainly to ofset the distribution costs.
    Most of a newspapers revenue comes from advertising and that model is now changing as more organisations are rederecting larger parts of their marketing budgets to online and social media streams. Having said that, I again say no I do not want to pay for the news on line as it is subsidised by the advertisers many of which bombard you with offers. But… there is always a but if there was a service that charged a nominal fee and stopped the advertising from being in your face… I would consider it.

    • TonyOzanne

      Thanks Don,
      I probably tend to agree. With the spread of availability of online news from multiple sources if one provider charges, then it is easy to go elsewhere. The point on being able to pay a minimum amount, and I will refer back to say $1 per month, I think I would happily do so if it meant the site was advertisment free, or at least mostly free of adverts, especially those nasty pop up ones that fill the entire screeen!


    • Interesting comments Don. I think its one of those things that publishers ultimately wont be able to assess the viability of until they take that leap. I do know of one instance.. either the Sun or the Guardian in the UK (cant recall which) that went down this path and lost 3/4 of their readership. On the other side of the coin however is that they went from a loss making enterprise to one making considerable profit.

      The challenge for publishers (like myself with RiotACT) is to find a model that works for the particular content and audience it is being produced for. Whilst advertising revenues whilst shifting to online portals like RiotACT, the majority of SME advertising spend is still in traditional channels. Offering and ad free experience for paying subscribers isn’t necessarily the answer as paying subscribers also tend to be the ones with higher engagement and thus more valuable to advertisers.

      Ultimately it comes down to ensuring that the whatever price is placed at the paywall is matched or exceeded by the perceived value of the content or other benefits once subscribed.