Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How long until 'WSJ Online' is free?

Speaking of Murdoch, now that News Corp.'s acquisition of Dow Jones seems a fait accompli, how long will it be before The Wall Street Journal Online becomes completely ad-supported? (Maybe with the exception of its archive and a few ancillary services.) There has been speculation about this all through this belabored Rupert Murdoch saga, but I'm betting it won't be long. As he has with The New York Post, Murdoch will do what it takes to get readership, and if opening up the site is the way to do that, it'll happen, since the Journal's revenue will become a mere rounding error compared to some of the other things on the News Corp. balance sheet. At one point I never thought we'd see the day when even the Journal's content became somewhat commoditized, but it's appeared, for some time now, that it has. It's fairly rare that one needs to see a story at wsj.com so badly to be willing to pay for it, besides which, I've long been wondering how much of the daily content is still really behind the firewall anyway. People who've been blogging for awhile know that the site sends out daily emails of free content that it encourages us to link to. Today's haul alone contained, the story on the News Corp. acquisition, Google's new search service targeting cell phones, private equity tending to back Republicans, not to mention there's a pretty extensive version of the site open to people who don't subscribe. In a way, it'll be too bad if the doors open because it will be the last, dying gasp of building a subscription model on the Internet. If that had worked, the newspaper business would be looking a lot healthier these days.

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