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Paywalls ‘Will Produce More Corpses Than Successes’

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Talk about kicking an industry when it’s down. The media team at Datamonitor’s Ovum advisory, running its slide rule over expected 2010 industry trends, says: “Paywall experiments by traditional media in 2010 are virtually guaranteed to produce more corpses than successes.”

Ovum could scarcely be more categorical in its pessimism toward the renewed clamour to charge for content…

“2010 will be another year of creative destruction for media as traditional sectors such as print and broadcast attempt to relocate, retain and monetise their audiences online …

“Ovum forecasts that the primary beneficiaries of attempts to move to paid-for content models will not be media conglomerates themselves, but service and technology vendors looking to monetise this opportunity and create new consumption platforms for rich news media.”

Indeed, we agree that one of the year’s busiest business areas will be in pitching paidcontent wall and billing platforms to panicky publishers. Media analyst Adrian Drury says pay-for content must be “highly differentiated, or information-premium and tradeable”.

Ovum is betting: “Former competitors in traditional media sectors will look to collaboration strategies to support pricing for premium content and prevent audience channel switching.” But we reckon they must walk a tightrope as such collaboration may come with antitrust implications.

But what’s a loss-making news org to do? Ovum acknowledges “technological evolution and business model experimentation will be the new orthodoxy” as “print media will continue to haemorrhage circulation and advertising income. Also: further “cutting cost from production and distribution operations”…