Due to an unnaturally long subway ride yesterday, I bought November issue of the Vanity Fair beforhand. This afternoon, I read (mostly by accident) Micheal Wolff's article on Ruper Murdoch and the Internet. That is, on Murdoch's belief that people WILL PAY for the content of his multiple newspapers.
What stroke me as odd was not the dubious empirical value of such a stand, but more that the approach came from someone so media savvy, so powerful, and still so successful in the media business. Maybe I should make this "old media" savvy though. Even the boldest among media moguls - or companies - for that matter (think Time Warner, a company that has been trying "everything Internet" in the past decade. Or think Barry Diller, who's among the oldies actually the one who did make some money off his IAC ventures. Some money, not a lot of it, though).
Wolff's article reminded me of an aricle "Running Numbers on Charging for News Online" , talking about the CUNY study New Business Models for News Project that I have seen some time ago. The study went with two pay models for a metro news organization scenarios (hm, how about New York Post and Wall Street Journal?). In one scenario, the website charges for all of its content; in the other, the site only charges for a fraction of it.
The conclusion: "Sites that charge for all of their content consistently lose “millions” during the first three years if they institute the pay wall; a hybrid site, by contrast, can become profitable before then, since additional advertising revenue more than makes up for any loss in subscription revenue."
Now, whether Murdoch will indeed make people pay for his content or not is not really an issue. What's curious is that he will try - because he assessed that's a smart strategic + business move for news online. What is even more curious is that he thinks that making people pay for content online will drive them to buy more print newspapers. Something like - if I have to pay for it, I would rather consume it in a paper format.
And here, I could not think of a single example of media content model that actually achieved this goal. iTunes did make people consume more music (but not buy more CDs); YouTube - and Hulu for that matter - did get people to watch more video content (but not necessarily to do so on TV); and Kindle may led people to read more (but not necessarily printed books); and e-commerce sites inspired people to buy more (and not in the physical stores).
So, while it may have helped media content consumption, when has the Internet helped old media distribution?
At this point, I am mostly curious to see how badly Murdoch's model fails.