Monday, January 11, 2010

Media Monday: Will you pay for online content?

Perhaps the biggest question being debated in the newspaper industry today is would people be willing to pay for content online.

The model for print newspapers has been that about 20 percent of the revenue comes from charging for the newspaper and 80 percent comes from advertising.

But the online model now depends nearly 100 percent on advertising revenue.

A recent study about the issue by an organization called ITZ/Belden Interactive indicates that paywalls are not a panacea.

Of the few newspapers who are charging for content, they have only 2.4% of the number of their print subscribers paying for online content.

And when you do the math, the revenue generated falls far short of the revenue made by advertising or even the print subscriptions generate by these newspapers, I imagine.

The Wall Street Journal does charge for some online content, but I wouldn't consider them the "normal" newspaper. Although they are expanding their coverage to compete more with USA Today and the national edition of the New York Times, I imagine most people are paying for access to financial information that only the Journal provides.

Unfortunately for those advocating charging for online content, the "genie," as they say has already been let out of the bottle.

This survey shows and the future will show that people are not willing to pay for online content.

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