Archive for the 'Newspapers' Category

Stand alone newspaper pay walls likely to fail

December 7, 2009

While a few select newspaper publishers may succeed with a strategy of erecting pay walls around their online content, most of these attempts will fail, according to the new 2010 Media Outlook report from Fitch Ratings.

Newspapers should find a way to cooperate and build a single pay wall.  A paid version of “Hulu for newspapers” just might work.  One off pay wall efforts will, in large part, fail.

Off topic (newspaper ad revenue declines):

The newspaper business has indeed suffered an unprecedented collapse over the last couple of years. According to the Newspaper Association of America, total ad revenues in the first three quarters of 2009 came to just under $19.9 billion, down 44% from $35.3 billion in the first three quarters of 2006.


Here’s an idea for Mr. Murdoch

November 24, 2009

BoomTown’s Kara Swisher wrote a great piece discussing the Murdoch vs. Google showdown.  She makes the observation that:

There is a lot more money to be made in searching for content than in making it.

If that’s true (is it really?) Murdoch shouldn’t be playing Google and Bing off each other.  He should work to build the search engine for the newspaper industry.  If he really wants to play this out, he shouldn’t run to Bing.  He (rather, the industry) should build his (its) own.

The search property (perhaps called would be jointly owned by the largest news providers (AP, Gannett, Tribune, New York Times, etc.).  Hulu, from the television world, could be the model (in terms of ownership).

All participating news organizations would block other search engines from indexing them.  Consumers would quickly come to realize that is the place to search for news.

Of course, the news industry has tried similar things in the past that have not played out well (e.g., Classified Ventures).  Perhaps, at this point in the decline of the Western Print Empire, there might be more motivation to try.

The rules for participation, ownership structure, etc. would all need to be worked out.

Why not?  Seems more rational than banking on Bing.

Update 11/25: Belo and Dean Singleton (MediaNews) might join in on the Google blocking thing.

News audience has been decoupled from ad revenue

November 18, 2009

Copying text from MediaPost to make sure I have it:

Newspaper publishers hoping to staunch the flow of ad dollars out of the medium got some help this week from a Scarborough Research study, which found that 74% of American adults either read the newspaper or visit a newspaper Web site at least once a week.

These data indicate newspapers still enjoy considerable reach; whether advertisers will be impressed by these figures is another story. Read the rest of this entry »

48% of US Consumers will pay average of $3 for access to online news

November 16, 2009

Not a bad sign for the newspaper industry.  $3 isn’t much, but it’s a starting point.

To make this work, the newspaper companies should form a consortium.  Access should include web and mobile.  Hopefully, there would be 500+ news sources.  The members of the consortium would share subscription and advertising revenue on an agreed upon pro rata basis.  Technical development would be a shared service.

The result would be the “cable network of news.”

I would keep the print business separated (i.e., newspaper subscription is separate).

From the New York Times article:

Americans, it turns out, are less willing than people in many other Western countries to pay for their online news, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group.

Among regular Internet users in the United States, 48 percent said in the survey, conducted in October, that they would pay to read news online, including on mobile devices. That result tied with Britain for the lowest figure among nine countries where Boston Consulting commissioned surveys. In several Western European countries, more than 60 percent said they would pay.

When asked how much they would pay, Americans averaged just $3 a month, tied with Australia for the lowest figure — and less than half the $7 average for Italians. The other countries included in the study were Germany, France, Spain, Norway and Finland.

Newspaper web audience grows while revenue declines

October 26, 2009
An average 74 million people visited a newspaper Web site each month in the third quarter of 2009, equaling just under 40% of all active U.S. Internet users, according to the Newspaper Association of America, citing research performed by Nielsen Online.

This is the most unique visitors recorded since the NAA and Nielsen began tracking newspaper Web site audiences in 2004; the previous record was 73.3 million in the first quarter of 2009.

On the other hand, this impressive growth in audience only serves to highlight newspapers' continuing inability to monetize online audiences at anywhere near the rate of their legacy print products in their heyday.

Total newspaper online advertising revenues have declined for six straight quarters through the second quarter of 2009, according to the NAA. They are likely to continue declining in the third quarter — in stark contrast to the 8% increase in audience size.

On Newspapers

October 12, 2009

This is a must read for anyone interested in the newspaper industry and the future of journalism. Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.

It makes me remember the internal debate at the LA Times whether to place on the print masthead (if you can believe it).

The problem newspapers face isn’t that they didn’t see the internet coming. They not only saw it miles off, they figured out early on that they needed a plan to deal with it, and during the early 90s they came up with not just one plan but several. One was to partner with companies like America Online, a fast-growing subscription service that was less chaotic than the open internet. Another plan was to educate the public about the behaviors required of them by copyright law. New payment models such as micropayments were proposed. Alternatively, they could pursue the profit margins enjoyed by radio and TV, if they became purely ad-supported. Still another plan was to convince tech firms to make their hardware and software less capable of sharing, or to partner with the businesses running data networks to achieve the same goal. Then there was the nuclear option: sue copyright infringers directly, making an example of them.

As these ideas were articulated, there was intense debate about the merits of various scenarios. Would DRM or walled gardens work better? Shouldn’t we try a carrot-and-stick approach, with education and prosecution? And so on. In all this conversation, there was one scenario that was widely regarded as unthinkable, a scenario that didn’t get much discussion in the nation’s newsrooms, for the obvious reason.

The unthinkable scenario unfolded something like this: The ability to share content wouldn’t shrink, it would grow. Walled gardens would prove unpopular. Digital advertising would reduce inefficiencies, and therefore profits. Dislike of micropayments would prevent widespread use. People would resist being educated to act against their own desires. Old habits of advertisers and readers would not transfer online. Even ferocious litigation would be inadequate to constrain massive, sustained law-breaking. (Prohibition redux.) Hardware and software vendors would not regard copyright holders as allies, nor would they regard customers as enemies. DRM’s requirement that the attacker be allowed to decode the content would be an insuperable flaw. And, per Thompson, suing people who love something so much they want to share it would piss them off.