Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Watching the wall at wsj.com fall

By the time wsj.com is free to the masses, the story will be just another news blip to flip (or more likely scroll) past. Rupert, who doesn't yet own the Journal, told a bunch of his homies in Adelaide yesterday that once he actually owned the joint, he would stop wsj.com's subscription model and let the ad revenue flow in, which doesn't exactly rate as news since that move is all but assumed, but was covered as though it was. I haven't done the math on this, but I can easily see it making more money as a free site. The content is still coveted, but strangely, every time I've re-upped my sub the last few years I've felt like somewhat of a chump, even knowing I could write it off. I mean, who pays for content anymore? Probably not so many that it offsets the potential ad revenue stream the site could get. And brick-by-brick the wall is coming down even without Rupert's ownership. The Journal has actively sent links to free content to bloggers for several years. Now, I just saw on Mediapost that anyone who Diggs a WSJ story will automatically make the content they're linking to free to anyone who accesses it through Digg. I had once hoped that a subscription model could flourish on the Internet, but it's time to move on.

1 comment:

Moses Maimonides said...

Do you see--in the internet--many analogies to early television?
I do. But I am almost as old as Philo T. Farnsworth would be if he had out-lived his invention bringing Doctor Phil and Oprah to the masses.
The question (who pays for content?) was tacitly asked in the early tv moments, when in NY there were only six clear stations and one fuzzy station from New Jersey, and content--such as it was-- was free as long you paid your electric bill and bought a TV....and had an antenna. Advertisers paid the freight; then cable came, first for reception, then for sports and PAY-TV and now dollar for dollar, TV costs monthly what a new set cost in 1950.
Question: why won't the print edition of the WSJ be free? Or--as free as allowed in the Milton Friedman TNSTAAFL formulation.