Blog Post

Murdoch: You’ll Pay for Our Content

News Corp. (s NWSA) CEO Rupert Murdoch said during a conference call yesterday that he plans to charge for all online content associated with his newspaper and TV properties. “We intend to charge for all our news web sites,” The Financial Times quoted him as saying. “If we’re successful, we’ll be followed by all media.”

What does this vague declaration means for Hulu, the free premium content portal partly owned by News Corp.’s FOX? Hulu’s free, ad-supported model has been sniped at over the past few months from its three network owners. In July, Bob Iger, CEO Disney (s DIS), said that online audiences would pay for quality content and gave his own ambiguous plans for a Disney subscription site. And previously, NBC Universal (s GE) CEO Jeff Zucker has said that a subscription service on Hulu was a possibility.

While there isn’t much concrete behind these grand CEO visions at this point, you have to wonder if Hulu will get the squeeze as paid content gets a second wind and “free” falls out of favor as networks look to boost their bottom line. Already you’ve seen Hulu’s network overlords exert their influence on the company by imposing delayed windows on certain content and allowing just a limited number of episodes available at any given time. Will they just winnow away at Hulu until it’s a husk of its former self?

Interestingly, both Murdoch and Iger have also bashed the cable companies’ TV Everywhere plans. According to the Financial Times, Murdoch dubbed TV Everywhere a “defensive” strategy and said that News Corp. would develop an “offensive” one. Just what an “offensive” strategy would be is unknown (though the image of Jack Bauer the Fox & Friends crew breaking into your home and taking money out of your wallet comes to mind). Previously, Iger has said he was open-minded, but had a “healthy amount of skepticism” about authentication plans.

7 Responses to “Murdoch: You’ll Pay for Our Content”

  1. Not sure what Murdoch thinks is free.
    1. I have to pay my ISP
    2. I have to sit through commercials to watch my favorite shows.

    So every time i watch HULU Murdock gets paid.

    • Yeah, I was wondering that. Commercials on the TV are what pays them. Basic TV is free. What is the difference if you watch it on a computer vs Television? I only see potential on the net personally. Think about it, you know how many people are viewing your shows. You can please the people investing in you to advertise them by showing them how many people watch that particular show. Not to mention little subtle advertisements all around. I do not have a Tv (since they switched I just said [email protected]#$k it. If I do not see it on my computer your advertisement has not reached me. Plus the gaming world is crushing hollywood, I would rather play WoW or something. Why would I want to pay money to be advertised to? That is why I also do not have cable, nothing ever on anyway and you are bombarded with commercials when there is something on.

  2. ajbaren

    Newscorps online strategy for NY Post and WSJ pay for content is doomed. David Joyce from Miller Tabak on CNBC last night seems supportive of the model, indicating someone had to start the “pay for content” trend.

    This will be a complete failure by Murdock, just as it has been for the record labels. The cat is out of the box!

    There is simply too much free content out there already. This had to be a federated decision by the media provideers back in the 90’s, and it wasn’t. Not that that would even stop the free flow of content. I disagree on the quality issue; quality of what? Were are not talking novel writing here or great literature. You have two things – editorial and factual news.

    Editorial is just that opinion. Yes, some is expressed more elegantly than others, but that’s not to say people look to NY Post writers as these great intellectual minds they are looking for leadership form. Blogs on the web and commentary against published articles are freely available all over the place.

    Regarding factual news, you have to look no further than the Huffington’s Post coverage of the unrest in Iran, and how fast news of celebrities, accidents, etc. flows over Tweeter.

    Bottom line, a pay for content strategy can still work for specialty magazines with true unique focus and expertise, but editorial and news, typically the mainstay of newspaper, will continue to be a failing model with pay-for-content. Newscorp would be much better offer leveraging their existing readership to provide free online content and sell advertising – typically the core review stream of newspapers historically anyway. Their challenge is not how to derive review from online content, but how to drive their offline readership to their online site so they have a unique base of online subscribed to sell advertising into.