Some time ago, it became clear that media baron Rupert Murdoch planned to move much of his empire behind pay-walls meaning those wanting to read content from online newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Sunday Times, would need to pay a subscription fee for access to the latest news.
Traditional hard copy publications are suffering as advertising revenue decreases and circulation figures also falter. Media companies are therefore having to look at other ways of raising money. So, as of June 2nd, readers are being charged a fee for accessing the online content.
To begin with, The Times is charging £1 for the first month, but this fee will increase to £1 per day, or £2 per week if a subscription is taken out.
Are readers happy about The Times charging a subscription fee?
Of course, the fee has created much debate with many feeling hard done by. Is it right that a news corporation can start charging for something we've come to take for granted? It will certainly be interesting to see how The Times readership suffers in the longterm as a result of this move.
How has The Times readership suffered so far?
Robin Goad from Experian Hitwise has recently reported that initially, traffic to The Times' website has fallen quite significantly (by about 60%) since the pay-wall had been made live. Whilst the figure is substantial, it's thought to be a little less than what was expected, meaning The Times will be taking it as a positive all-in-all.
Other national newspapers continue to offer free access to their online content, but many are watching the reaction of the public toward The Times' pay-wall. If it turns out to be a success, it is expected that many of them will follow suit.
What should news corporations be doing to please their readerships?
An interesting question which arises from this subject is centred around how newspapers should be looking to provide content to their readership. Should Rupert Murdoch expect his readers to have to go online, navigate to his websites and then pay for access to read the news or should the news be delivered to them via email and/or other methods?
The 'app' is a concept which has become popular because of the success of the various devices Apple has launched. The Apple App Store provides users of iPods, iPads and iPhones with the technology to increase the functionality of their devices with purpose built applications for every task you can think of. Whether apps are bought or downloaded for free, they provide the user with the ability to access content as, when and where they want to - which is pretty important in terms of where the newspapers should be looking to go.
Personalised content delivered as and when it is required
News corporations should be profiling their readership so that they can learn more about them - i.e., what interests them and what are they most likely to want to hear about. By doing this, the companies can tailor the content which is delivered to their readers through their applications, and this would surely be a feature individuals would be happy to pay for on a subscription basis.
So what do you guys think? Are you happy about The Times charging for it's online content? Has it affected you? Do you think they should be doing more to justify the fee? Please feel free to comment below!