Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Rupert to internet, “it’s war!”

Interesting times in MediaLand. It appears that Ruper Murdoch is close to finalising his plans for a war with the internet by introducing a paywall for TimesOnline to go live in May or June this year. His bullishness (or stubbornness depending on whether you are a Rupert supporter) appears well-placed with the news that, owned by the Pearson Group, has achieved a 46 per cent increase in subscriptions over the last year.

We need to take a step back a moment though. The Financial Times is a highly specialist publication offering excellent economic and sectoral analysis which people will pay for – often to help them do their jobs. Murdoch’s own Wall Street Journal has also achieved very good results with payment for content, again in its own specialist sector, which is maybe what has pushed him down this road with The Times.

In other parts of MediaLand however payment is definitely off the agenda and working. Word this week is that audited circulation figures of the Evening Standard, which went free late last year, have risen by 146 per cent.

What do we make of all this? My view all along is that The Times is too generalist a newspaper for a paywall to work. Certainly I suspect they will have to use different metrics to measure their readership based on quality rather than quantity if they are to convince advertisers that this is the future.


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