The Media Hammer

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Posts Tagged ‘free content

NYT nearing decision on charging for content

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According to PaidContent.org, the NYT is close to announcing their plan to charge for content online.   I’m looking forward to this announcement – although I’m not sure why it’s taking media companies so long to stop talking and start trying things.  Obviously it’s not a simple issue, and there are a lot of opinions whether or not media co’s should charge for content, and how they should do it. 

I don’t buy the “you can’t charge for content” argument – it seems like the people making this argument can never support it with solid reasoning.  Sure, media outlets that provide nothing unique that gives consumers real value will have  a tough time charging for content – but that’s a product issue not a pricing issue.  For example, I pay for ESPN Insider because the content available to insiders isn’t easily available from other sources – sure it’s out there somewhere, but I don’t have the time to scour the internet for a two sentence mention of the Kansas City Royals considering an international free agent. 

Unique, value adding content doesn’t have to be something that nobody else has, it just needs to be presented more effectively and easily than the content is from other available sources.  If a media company has some of this kind of content that consumers value (either because of convenience or because it’s not available anywhere else), why not build a community around it and charge for it?  Sure, not everyone will want to pay for this kind of content, but the people who do incredibly valuable – these consumers who are so interested in something that they’re willing to pay for quality or convenience enable are exactly who advertisers want to reach.  An engaged community of these consumers is an asset that publishers can leverage to substantially increase ad revenue. 

The sooner media companies stop looking at the short-term effects of charging for some or all of their content on traffic, and start focusing on the long-term opportunities for revenue generation online, the better chance they stand of being one of the media companies who is around 5 years from now to talk about the old days when people didn’t think you could be profitable publishing content online.

Written by kevinbums

November 1, 2009 at 7:03 pm