Rupert Murdoch's Latest Foray Into Online News Business Models... Not So Ridiculous

from the hold-on-here... dept

We've chronicled Rupert Murdoch's flip-flopping on charging for news online (he originally claimed that free news made sense, and he wanted to free up the WSJ, but now says all of his news sites should have paywalls). And a bunch of folks have sent in Michael Wolff's Vanity Fair profile of Murdoch as a clueless luddite on the internet, and someone who doesn't seem to care about the important nuances of why or how charging for news might not make much sense. Wolff paints Murdoch as the type of guy who just thinks he can bully the entire market into agreeing that people should pay for news online. In that article, Wolff discusses the tension between the Times of London and The Sunday Times, which are separate operations owned by Murdoch, but share a web site. However, apparently that's changing, and Wolff presents it as an opportunity to start charging for The Sunday Times online, since it won't be "losing" anyone via putting up a paywall (the question remains if it would gain anyone).

And yet... the recent revelation of a new business model experiment by the two papers suggests an approach that is a bit more nuanced -- even if the (competing) Guardian's explanation of it isn't particularly enlightening. The plan appears to be not to charge for news but to charge for some kind of membership club which provides additional benefits, along with the paper. So, becoming a member gives you the ability to add certain "packs" of information to your paper. I'm not sure how compelling that is. However, it's also going to involve access to events and discounts on other goods and services (including Murdoch-owned satellite TV service, Sky+).

While it may depend on what's really included in this offer, initially it makes quite a bit of sense. It's not based on locking up the web content or limiting how it can be used, but in providing additional scarce value that people will buy. Who knows if this is an indicator of what Murdoch is planning -- but it's significantly different than a paywall, and a lot more reasonable, economically speaking.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Designerfx (profile), Oct 8th, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    depends on the offer here

    this could go anywhere from wasteful/stupid to a legitimate/good idea. It all depends on what is introduced as part of this "membership".

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

  2. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 8th, 2009 @ 2:30pm

    Re: depends on the offer here

    Uh, yeah, it's Murdoch, so why don't we all just agree not to hold our collective breath, shall we?

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

  3. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 8th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re: depends on the offer here

    Oh, and FYI, I learned long ago not to trust people named after MacGuyver villains....

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

  4. icon
    Esahc (profile), Oct 8th, 2009 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: depends on the offer here


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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2009 @ 2:42pm


    Does...not...compute, brain...melting...

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

  6. identicon
    Johnny Lilburne, Oct 8th, 2009 @ 2:45pm

    Pedantry Corner

    It's not the Times of London, it's The Times.

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

  7. icon
    Chargone (profile), Oct 8th, 2009 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Pedantry Corner

    arguably the 'of London' bit is a clarification to avoid confusing the ignorant as to which Times was meant, rather than part of the name.


    the amount of snark involved in making any further comment advises me t hat it's better to stop here :D

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

  8. icon
    stat_insig (profile), Oct 8th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    Paywall Foxnews

    Can you please put a paywall on foxnews? Please... Please....

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

  9. icon
    stat_insig (profile), Oct 8th, 2009 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Pedantry Corner

    Which London are you talking about? London,ON ?

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

  10. identicon
    Francisco, Oct 8th, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    La Nacion, Argentina's most traditional newspaper has implemented this idea nicely. If you sucribe to the newspaper you become member of "Club La Nacion". The membership is pretty valuable because with it, for example, you obtain discount in several things. My favourite is 2x1 in most cinemas.
    The strange thing is that they started with it years before the internet.

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

  11. identicon
    me, Oct 8th, 2009 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Paywall Foxnews

    ha, you libs all want to silence other opinions.

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

  12. identicon
    ..., Oct 9th, 2009 @ 5:18am

    Re: Re: Paywall Foxnews

    "want to silence other opinions"

    So you admit that it is not news?
    Is it fair and balanced or unscrupulous and one sided?

    If you are going to teabag the nation, you're going to need a Dick Armey

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

  13. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 6:53am

    Re: Re: Paywall Foxnews

    "ha, you libs all want to silence other opinions."

    Well, as a staunch Independant, let me say this: I want people to stop listening to both sides of the stupid spectrum. I have as much use for Fox News as I do for NBC Nightly News on the other side, which is to say none at all.

    In all honesty, how can one claim to be a conservative network AND pretend to offer the "news"? No, you idiots, you're offering CONSERVATIVE VIEWPOINTS, and that ain't news. My favorite is their tagline: fair and balance.

    My ass. I have no love for the liberal media channels either, mind you. Both of them are full of shit. So where do you get real news? On a national level: probably nowhere. But I like my local news folks. They might have a bias too, but it sure as shit doesn't come shining through like Murdoch's goons or MSNBC's gang of retards...

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

  14. icon
    thirdwave (profile), Oct 10th, 2009 @ 5:42am

    Judicial Balancing

    The mistake is not to employ balancing for copyright law. The mistake is to think that judicial balancing is a valid method for resolving any dispute. Balancing is nothing more than the emperors clothes placed over political choices. Or as one professor of mine put it years ago- some day they are going to let us into the back room where the balancing is done and we will find ourselves knee deep in quarters. Heads I win tails you lose

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

  15. identicon
    Dennis Hampton, Feb 16th, 2010 @ 10:33am

    legitimate internet businesses

    Hey thanks for the great information on legitimate online businesses. I search the net looking for this type of content to give me ideas on future articles that I am going to write on this same general subject. Appreciated reading your article and information on this particular subject.

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

  16. identicon
    Brad, Feb 22nd, 2010 @ 12:36am

    Great content

    Thanks for the great content. I'm always searching the net for content that will give me some new ideas for my own blogs and legitimate online businesses. Thanks for the great article.

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

  17. identicon
    April, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 4:25am


    I'm not a fan of Rupert's but I have to admit that he is very successful and that we could probably learn a lot from him.

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

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