Key Advice Blog

Charging ahead with charging for content

Posted on: 06/08/2009

The race is on to charge for online media content. In Olympic style moves, Murdoch and crew are jumping into the deep water, pushing and shoving each other to get to the paid-for-content finish line first. Perhaps they should spend a few minutes on shore to consider the following.

People don’t react well to having something for free, then having to suddenly pay for it. The comments on The Guardian story are a good barometer.

Charging for general news flies in the face of a decade-old tradition of free news. Those paying for content, like for, are getting specialised content, and the target market is businesses, which can write off the expense. The average person in the street doesn’t fit this ‘willing-to-pay’ profile.

Digital journalism guru Paul Bradshaw, at, hosts an insightful article on charging for content, pointing to the need to offfer something unique (read: worth paying for). And the tide is turning in how and where people get news.

Many savvy news hounds are turning to Twitter and other ‘person-on-the-street’ platforms to find out news. It’s free, it’s fast, it’s full of helpful links. Can the media sites that are charging, race past the new medias sites that aren’t?

If you are looking to make money from an online venture, don’t forget to go back to basics. Clarify who your audience is. Ask them what they need? Want? Are willing to pay fo  r? Ask your in-house experts. Have a brainstorming session of all the alternatives. And develop a very sustainable strategy.

Dip your toe in the water, before you jump in over your head.


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