FT.com may have decided to drop part of its web pay wall in October – but it’s now erecting a new one right through the Factiva aggregator. While Factiva customers have so far enjoyed access to FT content bundled in with the cost of their subscription to the service, they will, from April, be compelled to take out the new “FT content licence” directly with the publisher. Starting at £1,990 for 10 users, the new license will now give readers access to FT.com as well as FT content accessed through multiple third-party aggregators like Lexis Nexis; Factiva is the latest to come on board today and its customers will have to pay the new fees or lose their feeds.
FT’s B2B MD Caspar de Bono: “We have created the FT Content Licence to ensure a fair and transparent means of separating the price paid for FT content from the price paid for news aggregations services. We think the services provided by news aggregators are excellent and that this is distinct from the value that the FT provides.” (Via release).
We won’t fail to observe that this is an intriguing change of the commercial terms between Pearson (NYSE: PSO) and the looming beast of financial news (Factiva is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Dow Jones), turning that relationship instead over to Dow Jones’ (NYSE: DJ) customers directly. For Pearson, it’s clearly an attempt to play more of a front-and-centre role in the business information value chain – and increase traffic to its website (maybe, just maybe, some Factiva customers will give up altogether in favour of FT.com alone).
The publisher’s October strategy seeks to drive consumers including blog readers to more free articles, now that online advertising is delivering rapidly increasing returns. The flip side of that was always going to be the retention of its commercial subscriber base. But the Financial Times is confident its content is valuable enough that people will continue to pay. Forcing customers of third-party aggregators to pay twice to get FT stories, however, (once for the platform, once for the feed) is a rather ballsy demonstration of that confidence.