Are we facing online newspaper subscriptions again?

Siobhan O’Connell wrote an interesting piece in the yesterdays Irish Times about how newspapers need to make online content profitable.  One of the things I took from it was that broadsheets are losing readership numbers to tabloids which would appear to be more linked to the lack of an online presence than the editorial.  The arguement being that most broadsheets are freely available online while tabloids like the Star feature little more than an ad.  If you cannot get it online you are forced to buy the physical product.  Not a very encouraging sign or trend.  The online subscription model has with a few exceptions failed but Times Ann Moore looks like reopening the debate.  

Who started this rumour that all information should be free and why didn’t we challenge this when it first came out? I say this in college classrooms and they start to throw their shoes at me. I say, ‘Kids, your food is not free and your cars are not free, your clothes are not free. Good information costs money. Someone has to pay for the Baghdad bureau’.”

This is understandable in a era of dropping ad revenues but its extremely hard to get people to pay for content and even harder if they are used to getting it for free.  It appears more like a desperate attempt by media publications to steam losses than a concerted effort to monitise their online models.

As usual the industry will find ways around this.  One interesting development is the paper reviews by Campbell Scott of IGO People and Bernie Goldbach.  They use very simple technology to talk through stories they enjoyed in the media, which they record with mobile phones and upload to mobile video shaing site QIK.  Of course if they agreed to show the ads then everyone would be happy…wouldnt they?

From a very selfish simplistic  PR viewpoint the more opportunities that people have to view a story about a client the better………that is until its a negative one and then we curse the longevity, reach and viral nature of the web stories.

2 Comments. Leave new

Marcus Mac Innes
March 14, 2009 8:00 am

I’m generalising here… but would you not agree that tabloids are read mainly by people whose jobs do not involve sitting at a desk with a PC connected to the Internet? The profile of the readerships is so vastly different and when you look at opportunity to view publications online for each, it makes perfect sense that tabloids are still selling their physical product well, while broadsheets are not…

Thanks Marcus and well done on the Paddys Day photo uploads. I imagine that the old profile of the tabloids dont interact with the web in any meaningful way but would hope there is a reasonable portion of the younger audiences that are web savy from te social media perspective at least – Bebo, Facebook, YouTube users (even if they only buy them for the sport ;)). With investments in media on hold it would take a major revolution or financially compelling reason to change the online stance.

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