Will You Pay For Info? Confusion Reigns

An eyeball viewing content on the net isn’t worth as much as that same eyeball watching a TV commercial.

ny-times-technology-page.pngAt the TV station my bosses have a quandary. They know many of you are changing your habits and getting your info on the Internet. Should we follow you?

Don’t answer yet because the problem is complex and confusing.

An eyeball viewing content on the net isn’t worth as much as that same eyeball watching a TV commercial. We move you to the net at our own peril. Of course if we could charge viewers to subscribe to our product, as cable TV and satellite radio already do, we could supplement income from commercials and continue to pay the mortgage.

So far getting consumers to pay for web content isn’t very successful. At one time the NY Times had a partial paywall behind which its columnists and some other premium content lived. No more. The Wall Street Journal is currently somewhat successful in charging for much of its content. There aren’t many other examples.

Entire lines of business are dependent on getting the correct answer to this question which is why the Technology page on the NY Times website is so frustrating. Co-existing on one page are the following headlines:

  • 80% of US Consumers Won’t Pay For Content
  • About Half in US Would Pay For Online News, Study Finds.

Is there an editor in the house? Aren’t these mutually exclusive?

If the answer was easy we’d all be doing the right thing today instead of being petrified what we’ll do is wrong.

Blogger’s note: For clarity I used Photoshop to make the capture of the Times Technology page fit on your screen. Nothing germane to my point was removed.

One thought on “Will You Pay For Info? Confusion Reigns”

  1. A couple points:

    – Yes, you can charge more for advertising on TV than on the web. But for how long? Many businesses go under because they think they’ve earned the right to a guaranteed revenue stream, then fail to act when that revenue stream starts to disappear. Buggy whips, anyone?

    – Most people won’t pay for content if they can get substantially the same content for free. But at the end of the day, someone has to pay for that journalist to go to Iraq and find out what’s going on. Or to Congress, or to the local city council meeting. No number of working-for-free amateur journalists is going to replace Seymour Hersch, or George Packer, or the poor guy who has to sit though and then make sense of your city government’s meetings.

    Whenever I hear someone say, “Information wants to be free,” I just roll my eyes; they want information to be free. Eventually, people will pay for content–be it through subscriptions, advertising, or something that’s yet to be thought of–but not until those who are giving away content for free (and who are being subsidized from some other source) die an inevitable death.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *