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Let Them Eat Paper

July 20, 2010 14:59:07.874

While I understand the thinking behind the new paywall that Murdoch's UK newspapers are using on their websites, I think it's a doomed plan. First, the bad news, from GigaOm:

The paywall at the Times of London’s web site has led to a drop of at least 65 percent in the newspaper’s online readership, according to early estimates.

Supposedly, they aren't worried about this - what they want is to keep their print subscribers paying for the print edition, by not letting them see the website unless they pay. There are two problems with that theory though:

  • It's a no growth play. New prospects can't see anything, so they are unlikely to buy in. Younger people are buying less print news period, so the entire market for this plan is shrinking.
  • Even for the existing buyers, it assumes that they can't find the news elsewhere. That's clearly not the case.

Add it all up, and it seems to me that this plan puts a clock on the lifespan of any business that uses it. No growth, and constant attrition from your existing customer base. Not a good way to go, IMHO...

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posted by James Robertson

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