In a move that is set to shake up the Online News arena in Australia, News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch has announced the company is considering the option of charging readers to access online content and news stories, and aims to do so within a year.
Websites such as News.com.au, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph will all be affected by the change. The mentioned sites, currently publishing freely available content for all to read, look to change to a subscription system charging website users to access their content. It will be interesting to see how long it takes other media companies to follow suit, particularly Fairfax for access to their Sydney Morning Herald and The Age websites.
One of the main reasons behind the move was the inception of The Wall Street Journal’s online subscription which starts from US$103 per year. This convinced Rupert Murdoch that consumers are willing to pay for quality news online that differentiates itself from the mass of information freely available on the web.
What will this mean for the bulk of Internet users who use sites like this for their news? Well they will have to either pay to read the news items or search for other free news related sites, but one may think if News Corporation starts charging for its content, a tidal wave of subscription news services will follow.
Not only is this a big step for news related sites, its also a shift for the traditional monetization model for many websites. Although subscription websites have been around for a long time, there has been a consensus of more recent times that to have a successful website you need to provide quality, free information, making your revenue from other avenues such as banner advertising, sponsorship, product sales or AdSense, and this could change all that.
What can News Corporation expect to happen to their website traffic? Initially you would think consumers will backlash, preferring to access freely available news source, but over time we imagine they will come around to start using the subscription service if they prefer the type of news and journalism provided by News Corp publications. To sweeten the deal, will members get special benefits for subscribing such as discounts on other News Corp networks and products? Who knows, we may even see an increase in newspapers production again!