Murdoch: WSJ.com Will Not Go Completely Free; In Fact, Premium Pricing Will Rise

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imageWith any luck this will put an end to the “will he, won’t he” chatter about WSJ.com … WSJ reports that Rupert Murdoch told a panel in Davos that free access to the flagship Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) site will be expanded but that the hybrid model will remain in place. The direct quote:

7 Comments

Arthur Frischman

My prediction is that until paid sites figure out how to sell their services, there is going to be a constance dance between advertising vs subscriptions.

Think cable TV for paid membership websites.

Mark Pilipczuk

I'm not sure I agree that the Journal will go free with only the high-end content being behind the pay firewall. I think we're seeing the result of Murdoch's financial team struggling to find a way to build a revenue model around a "free" business that's commensurate with the costs associated with creating that product.

Quality reporting isn't cheap and it takes a lot of impressions to make up for $99/year subscription revenue. So to make the P&L;hang together you start having to cut back on the creation of the content, which starts the UV quality reduction, PV quantity reduction spiral. If he's not careful, the free product ends up looking like it–a bunch of rehashed wire feeds and some surface-skimming articles.

I predict they'll keep much of the daily paper free, with the exception of some of the key headlines and the blogs. I can't see the model working otherwise, although I admittedly haven't tried to model it out myself.

Staci D. Kramer

Thanks, Rex. I think much, if not all, of the daily paper will wind up free as will a number of online-only elements but the sticker shock will come for databases, instant information beyond news, and highly targeted info.

Rex Hammock

My prediction: The "greatly expanded and improved free part of the Wall Street Journal online" will look a lot like a subscription-free WSJ.com to most "consumer" readers. Despite the way the WSJ.com blog post/ news story spins it, I think Murdoch is actually confirming a blended free/pay model some people have long predicted. (And by some people, I mean you and me, Staci.)

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