Rupert Murdoch Switching Sides On Free Content?
from the say-what-now? dept
At one point, it seemed like Rupert Murdoch was all on board with moving away from newsprint and towards an online world where content was free. After all, way back in 2005 he declared that newsprint was on the way out, and then, prior to taking over the Wall Street Journal, he hinted that he thought the WSJ could do even better by making its content entirely free. However, after taking over Dow Jones, folks who run WSJ.com convinced him otherwise — and now it sounds like he’s gone entirely over to the other side. In a talk at a cable industry event, he reportedly said: “The question is, should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyright … not steal, but take. Not just them, but Yahoo.”
Well, at least he corrected himself (sort of) on calling it “stealing” — though, even then it’s not right. First off, it would be the content, not the copyright that’s being used. And it wouldn’t be either “taken” or “stolen.” But, even more to the point, if Murdoch doesn’t want Google or Yahoo linking to his properties, that’s easy. He can just ask them to stop and they will. So, to claim that it’s somehow unfair that Google and Yahoo are “taking” that content is flat-out wrong. News Corp. hasn’t blocked the crawlers, so obviously the company feels it gets some benefit from Google and Yahoo.
Then he moved on to the question of free content:
“People reading news for free on the web, that’s got to change.”
“We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having 1 million [subscribers], having at least 10 million to 15 million in every corner of the earth…. Will you lose $50 million to $100 million in revenue? I don’t think so. If the site is good, you’ll get much more.”
Perhaps Murdoch of today should go talk to Murdoch of 2007.
Or, he should go talk with Martin Langeveld who actually tried to do the math on subscriptions vs. the loss in advertising from a much smaller base, and has a lot of trouble finding any model of paid content that would offset the loss in advertising. In fact, the more he looked, the worse it seemed, as the loss in advertising revenue from putting most content behind a paywall is significantly more than any subscriber revenue.