Tablets may allow 're-set' for media: News Corp.

Customers try out Apple's new iPad in a shop in Barcelona
Customers try out Apple's new iPad in a shop in Barcelona on May 28, 2010. Tablet computers such as Apple's iPad may allow the news industry a "re-set" and to start charging for content after years of giving it away for free, a senior News Corp. executive said.

Tablet computers such as Apple's iPad may allow the news industry a "re-set" and to start charging for content after years of giving it away for free, a senior News Corp. executive said Friday.

News Corp. chief digital officer Jon Miller also said it was too early to make any judgements about the experiment of News Corp.'s The Times with a paid website but charging online readers was "an idea whose time has come."

"A year ago, we were pretty out front with the idea that content has value," Miller told an audience of top technology and media executives at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference here.

Now, he said, "it's accepted at a variety of levels. It's more about how it gets done."

News Corp.'s Wall Street Journal already charges a for full access to and News Corp. chairman has said he eventually plans to charge online readers of all of the titles in his newspaper stable.

"Dual revenue streams are good businesses," Miller said of a combination of subscription fees and online advertising.

Miller said tablet computers such as the iPad offer great opportunities for news organizations to develop paid applications.

"You see apps being consumed that are paid-for apps," he said.

"I think we're seeing a fundamental shift in where content is consumed and it's on to these kinds of devices," he said. "These tablets are heavy media consumption devices, much more than the Web by itself and even smartphones."

He said the and other tablets being developed offer "very media rich experiences that I think do allow a re-set, perhaps a do-over for the media industry, a chance to get it right."

Consumers need to understand that "there is investment being made in this content," the News Corp. executive said.

Miller declined to give specifics when asked about the number of paid subscribers to Britain's The Times, but said they were "about in line" with what was expected.

"It is early," he said. "It's just a few weeks in."

He pointed to The Wall Street Journal as a newspaper that is successfully charging Web readers and noted that Britain's Financial Times also does so and that The New York Times plans to start charging at the beginning of next year.

"The Wall Street Journal has been in a paid environment for a long time," he said. "There's over a million digital subscribers to The in various forms."

Miller acknowledged that erecting a pay barrier around a newspaper website did result in some loss of readership.

"You lose unique visitors when you do that, unquestionably," he said, but they tend to be those who "dip in and dip out."

"What you do retain are your more core users," he said.

Miller said charging online may not be the way to go for every news outlet.

"I think you do need to have the fortitude to stay the course because you're converting behaviour and the hardest thing to change in the world, one of the hardest things, is consumer behaviour and expectations," he said.

"I don't know that every company can do it," Miller said. "You have to have the will and the wherewithal to do it. . has both. It certainly has the financial capability of staying the course."

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User comments

Jul 24, 2010
Well you must rely on peoples stupidity not to go to an other news site if you start charging for it.
Luckily for them there enough stupid people running around.

Jul 24, 2010
"'You lose unique visitors when you do that, unquestionably,' he said, but they tend to be those who 'dip in and dip out'".

Yeah, they're the users who are used to getting their info on the web for free, which is most younger to mid age users. Unfortunately for the traditional media, this demographic is on the increase and they will continue to find users willing to buy subscriptions continue to fall. Revenues are way down compared to the heyday of classifieds supported print media, trending downwards. I guess they need to keep trimming the fat until a new equilibrium is reached.

Jul 24, 2010
I am willing to pay for a really good site with e.g. popular illustrated science. Ofcourse with new and good articles. This would replace the hardcopy magazine I am subscribing to at present.
Honestly, I dont want to pay extra for reading general news. I can find this "free" on the radio, TV or abroad if needed.

Jul 24, 2010
heck, I'm not paying for those articles, learn to sell ads. My understanding is that the cost of a newspaper was suppose to offset the cost of printing it, not the editorials. It's bad enough that the media is biased, I'm not gonna pay to read their propaganda.

Jul 24, 2010
LOL! Well, old Rupert has finally gone senile. I guess Newscorp's profits must have started trending down.

Jul 24, 2010
Before Rupert got greedy, I used to read the WSJ. I do not any more.
I once had a subscription to American Scientist for their magazine. I wanted the article in PDF format to be able to read later on the plane. Even with a subscription, I could not get that...only paid dues subscribers. So, I dropped it.
Marketing people, in order to justify their jobs, have proposed this contrived arrangement. The Rupert direction only works with his business models. Soon, advertising and charging for a look will not pay enough...charge even more then.
I do subscribe to online journals like Scientific American. I do not subscribe to New Scientist on line...too expensive.
The assumption that "news" material has value is justified only if it does...unique material, star personality information not available anywhere else...that sort of thing.
Let us take Rupert's line of thinking to its logical conclusion. In the near future, the information divide between Have and Have Not will become wider.

Jul 24, 2010
I'll pay for news that I feel is unbiased and relevant. So far I haven't found it so I'm not paying anything.

Jul 25, 2010
People have to be pretty stupid to pay for any of newscorps biased, right wing content. It's been 20+ yrs since WSJ was worth buying, reading. And Fox News is a joke.

Jul 26, 2010
Jerryd, Fox News is anything but a joke. It is a civilizational catastrophe.

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