AP Wants To Charge For Scoops

from the not-quite-the-crystal-ball dept

The Associated Press is considering charging an extra fee for early access to its stories. The AP's Tom Curley believes that news organizations like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, would be willing to pay a premium for a 20-30 minute head start on scoops. Now, lest some of you compare this product with Techdirt's own Crystal Ball offering, there is a key difference. AP's product depends on the timeliness of its stories, whereas Techdirt's stories are more focused on analysis -- we do not focus on breaking stories, but when we do, we do not hold them back for the Crystal Ball subscribers to view them. In any case, while this may sound like an enlightened idea for the AP, I'm not really sure it makes much sense. Currently, all of AP's licensees get all of the scoops at the same time, off the same wire. With this system, what the AP is doing is effectively weakening that existing product, and then creating a "new" product that, when the dust settles, is really what most of the customers were getting in the first place. It's not that the scoops are released 20-30 minutes sooner, but rather, if you don't pay the premium, you get the stories you would normally get later. Now, there's nothing wrong with this model, for example, stock quote services have long been able to charge more for real-time information, but for the AP to market this as a premium service seems like disingenuous marketing. Furthermore, given the AP's track record for trying to claim ownership over the news that it reports (like creating a DRM system for news), what happens when the now-hamstrung AP wire is scooped by a reporter who was tipped off by AP's own product?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 7th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

    This doesn't seem particularly nefarious on AP's part, but it's hard to see the value they're proposing.

    Is getting the news 20-30 minutes earlier something that is worth paying a premium for? Perhaps for some few, but I'm guessing for the vast majority of people, the answer is no.

    Scoops arguably used to matter when a "scoop" meant you got the story out a day earlier than everyone else. Scoops don't matter any more outside of a few rarified areas such as, perhaps, stock news.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    lulz, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 5:40pm

    This just opens up a potential for time-sensitive "news piracy": one person subscribes to the crystal ball-esque feature, then reposts it across the net.

    Also plain old word-of-mouth will spread breaking stories too (which opens up possibilities of distorting the story).

    The loopholes are strong in this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Robert Ring (profile), Oct 7th, 2009 @ 5:42pm

    But...

    Not a particularly bad idea, but one problem. Won't the non-subscribers just get the news "early" from the subscribers, then?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 5:57pm

    No doubt the evil "bloggers" will "steal" AP's "property" by talking about "it" and thus the news "industry" "will" "go" "out" of "business."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 8:13pm

      Re:

      by "bloggers" you mean "idiot pundit wannabes on the intarwebs"

      by "steal" you mean "paraphrase"

      by "property" you mean "allegations of facts and generalizations"

      by "industry" you mean "dinosaurs"

      by "will" you mean "will"

      by "go" you mean "become"

      by "out" you mean "extinct"

      and by "business" you mean "it's really embarrassing to whine about getting put out of business by a bunch of 20 year old liberal arts sophomores who don't know shit about anything and think stuff like digg is news."

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Danny (profile), Oct 7th, 2009 @ 8:29pm

      Re:

      Not just bloggers. Expect every premium AP story to be Twittered about immediately. You don't get the AP content, but you know it is happening - and someone else out there must be reporting it too.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        William Dodder, Oct 8th, 2009 @ 5:14am

        Re: Re:

        How long before AP sues Twitter for a Hot News lawsuit?

        That is how an organization like AP would handle that. Threat and force of litigation.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Davis Freeberg, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 6:11pm

    Breaking news is worth more, but Mike is right, this is really just a fee increase for their current subscribers. Taking away something they currently have and charging more for it probably won't make their subscribers happy, but if they can get more people to pay then quit it works out for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    NullOp, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 6:33pm

    Nothing New

    This idea is nothing new. To get up to the minute stock quotes I believe you still have to get up off some bucks. And you only a 15 minute head start.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Richard (profile), Oct 8th, 2009 @ 2:25am

      Re: Nothing New

      The key to whether this business model works is whether the paying recipient has an incentive to keep what he has "bought" to himself.

      This obviously works for stock quotes and for magic tricks - but with news the WHOLE POINT is to pass it on. This obviously applies to a newspaper buying a story from AP but it also applies to individual consumers - what's the point of reading the news if you aren't going to chat about it with your friends afterwards.

      These days, of course "chat about it with your friends" also includes what I am doing right now!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 7th, 2009 @ 7:57pm

    Not for retail

    This probably isn't aimed at individual customers. It seems aimed at news organizations and services like Google News.

    It might be worth a try as long as they don't anger their regular customers. If it doesn't work and they don't loose too many customers in the process they can always roll back to the old system.

    It will be interesting to watch what other news organizations do. Will Reuters or CNN hop in and provide a comparable real-time feed, relegating AP to the "old news" wire?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 8:47pm

    Aren't scoops somewhat analogous to what is frequently termed here as the advantage accorded to a "first mover"?

    There is a distinct advantage to having a leg up on others, even if that leg up is measured in minutes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 9:34pm

      Re:

      What you're missing here is that the AP is not a source for 'scoops'... it is a source for finding out what everyone's mother already knows. It is a clearing-house for old information. The AP exists to make news items prolifically distributed.

      I see no market for this whatsoever.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Mr Big Content, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 11:32pm

    Just You Wait

    Imagine if some really big event happened, like an earthquake or flood or big wave or typhoon or meteor strike or Al-Qantas terrorist attack or something that affected the whole world, but nobody found out about it because they weren’t willing to pay the AP for the scoop.

    That would teach people not to take AP for granted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    William Dodder, Oct 8th, 2009 @ 5:11am

    The real underlying story is that AP has define "Hot News"

    I think that the real underlying story here is that the AP has now defined how long news is considered HOT NEWS.

    This is important because AP has sued recently claiming NY's Hot News doctrine as a cause of action. See AP vs Moreover and AP vs All Headline News and I am sure there are others.

    And I think that AP would certainly like to claim ownership of the facts of a news event for it's own commercial gain. They are certainly not an organization that has a history attempting skewing and manipulate law for its own benefit.


    So here is the kicker.. By nature of AP's own article and announcement I (and probably lots of other copyright attorneys) would argue that AP has said that any news item is considered hot for a period of no less than 20 minutes and not for more than 30 minutes. If they try to claim differently then they are untruthful, either now or then.

    It was a very bad bad move from the Associated Press, but great for the industry is a whole.

    Personally I don't think Hot News as defined NY even is valid anymore... but that's another argument.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    AP's intentional suicide?

    Is the AP intentionally trying to kill their own revenue?

    This service would be useless to anyone except for the real time news networks (CNN, MSNBC, etc) where 20 minutes is an advantage. But that can't be where most of their revenue comes from. For any current AP subscribers not in that group, it is lessening the value of their existing service - so why should they continue to pay for it? Especially when they can get a GoogleNews feed and just rewrite the story...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    Now, lest some of you compare this product with Techdirt's own Crystal Ball offering, there is a key difference. AP's product depends on the timeliness of its stories, whereas Techdirt's stories are more focused on analysis...

    Still, there are more similarities than differences. Funny, I guess what's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This