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QOTD: Would You Pay For Content Online?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 118 comments

Is the content you read online worth paying for?

Over the last year, newspapers have seen a steady decline in print sales, with more readers logging online to get their daily dose of current affairs. Whether or not it signifies the death knell of the newspaper and magazine business, the industry is faced with a very big problem: how do you make online revenue match the money made from print sales?

One solution that nobody seems to be a fan of (that is, nobody but newspapers) is introducing subscriptions to the sites. Similar to the way you subscribe to a certain newspaper in the real world, you'd subscribe to them online. Instead of having the newspaper delivered to your door every morning, you'd log online and view the news from the comfort of your own home or office.

While tons of people are opposed to the idea of paying a subscription for news on the internet, there's a significant amount who are of the opinion that if the content is of a good quality, then why shouldn't we pay for it?

Today's question of the day is would you consider paying for the online content that you consume each day? If so, how would the content have to be different for you to feel that it's worth paying for it?

Discuss
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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    p05esto , September 17, 2009 4:28 PM
    Nope, wouldn't pay. Unless all the free sources went away, then I might $20 a year for a news subscription service that I could customize to include the types of news I want to see (world, human interest, tech, etc). Otherwise, I'm too busy and news isn't all that important to me...rarely affects my personal life.
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2009 4:30 PM
    NO!
  • 17 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2009 4:47 PM
    Paying somebody to lie to you(or regurgitate lies from the AP) just seems unconscionable, they should feel fortunate that anybody reads it at all. Some may charge, but there will always be some that carry news for free, so my answer is:

    Yes, I'm all for them charging, since it will be a nail in their coffin, and

    No, I wouldn't pay for it.
Other Comments
  • 24 Hide
    p05esto , September 17, 2009 4:28 PM
    Nope, wouldn't pay. Unless all the free sources went away, then I might $20 a year for a news subscription service that I could customize to include the types of news I want to see (world, human interest, tech, etc). Otherwise, I'm too busy and news isn't all that important to me...rarely affects my personal life.
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2009 4:30 PM
    NO!
  • 17 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2009 4:36 PM
    I find think charging for news content online is a horrible idea that will fail quickly.

    Web designers know that simply adding an extra click to the process of reaching content will dissuade most users. Sites that have added registration saw their readership drop tremendously (and most news sites that once required registration have ended the process quickly).

    Even if they charge 10 cents per month I predict most users will refuse to pull out their credit card and will instead find their news elsewhere.

    News sites need to stop whining that ads are not profitable enough to survive. CNN.com has always been free and is extremely profitable.
  • -6 Hide
    wesblog , September 17, 2009 4:37 PM
    I find think charging for news content online is a horrible idea that will fail quickly.

    Web designers know that simply adding an extra click to the process of reaching content will dissuade most users. Sites that have added registration saw their readership drop tremendously (and most news sites that once required registration have ended the process quickly).

    Even if they charge 10 cents per month I predict most users will refuse to pull out their credit card and will instead find their news elsewhere.

    News sites need to stop whining that ads are not profitable enough to survive. CNN.com has always been free and is extremely profitable.
  • 16 Hide
    jellico , September 17, 2009 4:38 PM
    Generally, no. Putting aside the cost, it becomes far to difficult to manage, and keep track of all of the different subscriptions. Hell, it's hard enough remembering passwords for all of the different websites that require registration, but which you only visit once in a while.
  • 8 Hide
    cruiseoveride , September 17, 2009 4:39 PM
    No
  • 5 Hide
    jcknouse , September 17, 2009 4:43 PM
    Nope. If I want to read a newspaper, I get it from my neighbors. If I want to read it online, I can't just log into their account anytime I want.

    Plus, most news is available on television or by word of mouth...or at a public library already.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2009 4:45 PM
    I'm on the internet for the free stuff I get!
    Not to pay!
    I'm amazed at the massive amounts of free stuff we already get!
    But I'm not going to pay anything, unless I buy an actual thing off the internet like a purchase on Amazon or Ebay.
  • -6 Hide
    brandonvi , September 17, 2009 4:46 PM
    No

    the only thing i would ever pay for that was a service over the internet would be MMORPG games other then that i have never seen anything i would find worth paying for service wise like papers or anything else
  • 1 Hide
    pochacco007 , September 17, 2009 4:47 PM
    no one is willing to pay for an online newspaper subscription like that from the new york times because those type of information has become free due to the internet.

    what the internet has done is make information inflated. in the beginning of the internet life cycle [sometime during the early or mid 90's], it was okay to charge subscription because information on the internet was limited due to the availability of the net to everyone. jump several years from that time to the current present, majority of the people have a form of connection where they can go on to the internet. because of this [being able to get on the internet], people are inputting more information into the "internet system". as more information is being put into it, the less value it gets.

    game sites like ign or newspaper sites like new york times are wasting their time if they intend to charge people.
  • 17 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2009 4:47 PM
    Paying somebody to lie to you(or regurgitate lies from the AP) just seems unconscionable, they should feel fortunate that anybody reads it at all. Some may charge, but there will always be some that carry news for free, so my answer is:

    Yes, I'm all for them charging, since it will be a nail in their coffin, and

    No, I wouldn't pay for it.
  • 1 Hide
    ghazgull , September 17, 2009 4:48 PM
    The only way I would hop on board was if I had total control of what I viewed. For example I would want to view news about 'tech' and 'economics' and omit the 'religion' and 'sports' related news.

    The website would have to have alot of features that let me control the type of news im most interested in.

  • 5 Hide
    deadlockedworld , September 17, 2009 4:49 PM
    wesblogI find think charging for news content online is a horrible idea that will fail quickly. Web designers know that simply adding an extra click to the process of reaching content will dissuade most users. Sites that have added registration saw their readership drop tremendously (and most news sites that once required registration have ended the process quickly).Even if they charge 10 cents per month I predict most users will refuse to pull out their credit card and will instead find their news elsewhere.News sites need to stop whining that ads are not profitable enough to survive. CNN.com has always been free and is extremely profitable.


    CNN is profitable because half the stories these days are videos of celebrities and animals--they have given up journalistic integrity in return for popularity.

    I would pay for Tom's :-) I agree with others that the barrier is more about effort than financial burden. If i didn't have to share my credit card I would be happy to pay 1c per article or something similar.

    If big media goes the nonprofit route we could institute a system of donation buttons at the ends of articles--that way people could vote with a small $tip for the stories they deem most important. It worked for Radiohead... This would reflect what people care about, as opposed to what fearmongering title drew the most people to click... "SWINE FLU STRIKES AGAIN"...
  • -1 Hide
    ewood , September 17, 2009 4:53 PM
    in a word: NO
  • 1 Hide
    zubikov , September 17, 2009 4:55 PM
    Just like any other industry, the online news industry started very quickly and explosively. The market is now oversaturated, with low barriers to entry and near-zero profitability.

    Naturally, the market will shrink and hopefully many news sites will burn out. This will force the good, reliable news sources to differentiate their product and improve quality. However, the barriers to entry will remain low, competition will remain high and profitability will not be there.

    So to answer the QOTD: No, paying for content is not in our forseeable future.
  • 3 Hide
    adamovera , September 17, 2009 4:55 PM
    No, absolutely I would not. Newspapers and magazines make most of their money from advertising and not from subscriptions and newsstand sales. Those sales pay for the materials used to produce print media (ink, paper, machinery, repairs, delivery, and associated staff). Every time there is a new medium the same organizations bitch and moan. This happened with radio and television after that.

    Also, the internet is a hell of a lot closer to print than radio or television in the respect that you largely read text and can pick and choose what you take in and when. Whereas with radio and television you get whatever is being served up on the channel. Due to this similarity, the 'problem' shouldn't be that difficult to solve.

    IMO, print media companies need to band together to get cheap, easy-to-use, and durable e-readers on the market in order to convert the last of the print die-hards (e.g. the elderly and tech-challenged) to the electronic format so they don't simply lose those readers. They can continue to charge for the e-reader subscriptions because that demographic doesn't know how to get it for free anyway. At the same time they need to also collectively demand more dollars for their online advertising space to rival that of their print space. Afterall, print media does not allow the reader to simply click on an ad and be instantaneously transported to the checkout line, electronic media does. With the money saved by the tremendous overhead of large offices and the steady decline of printed materials (and all associated costs) they should be making relatively the same amount of money as before or perhaps even more.

    What they're really afraid of is that whenever there is a paradigm shift it opens the door for new organizations to enter the fray and compete. This is what scares the hell out of them. NYT is used to competing with WashPo and WSJ, not HuffPo and Drudge Report. The devil you know is always better than the one you don't.

    As far as the second part of the question, they would have to give me something tangible, something I could hold in my hand to justify charging for a subscription. Off the top of my head: give free or highly discounted e-readers with multi-year subscriptions and 'deliver' the content to that device (with maybe a web login as well). Cell phone carriers apply the same model and they're not hurting by giving away or seriously discounting phones with multi-year contracts.
  • 1 Hide
    smashley , September 17, 2009 4:56 PM
    While I wouldn't pay for online news myself, I could see this working for some of the major daily newspapers out there. This would only work however, if there was an extremely high caliber of writing talent with the given publication, and subscription fees should be reasonable. I'm sure Kindle users would appreciate this. It could also open up a much larger audience (worldwide) which would off-set the loss of any readers who are unwilling to pay. There of course could also be advertisement sponsored versions at a lower/free cost, where paying customers would not have to see the advertising at all.
  • 2 Hide
    waikano , September 17, 2009 4:58 PM
    NO, enough revenue should be made from advertisement anyway.
  • 1 Hide
    adamovera , September 17, 2009 5:00 PM
    ghazgullThe only way I would hop on board was if I had total control of what I viewed. For example I would want to view news about 'tech' and 'economics' and omit the 'religion' and 'sports' related news.The website would have to have alot of features that let me control the type of news im most interested in.

    already exists, check out My Yahoo!
  • 3 Hide
    jhgoodwin , September 17, 2009 5:02 PM
    I would pay a subscription for *RELEVANT* news that was *AD FREE* and *TYPO FREE*. The folks here who don't buy anything have an irrelevant opinion. Only the paying consumers matter to the people choosing to engage in a business model. My guess is the model that will end up working best is a combination of ad-sponsored, and subscription. If you pay, the ads go away. Perhaps subscribers could also somehow voice their opinions of what subjects are valuable to them. Just my two cents.
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