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Web fees for News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) online newspapers is a direction rather than a template. Down under, The Australian seems unwilling to follow in the furrow ploughed by The Times in the UK.
Freudenstein: “That’s a very interesting question. I think that’s one that’s going to be something we will look at over time. There’s a couple of different models. Clearly The Wall Street Journal in the US, who have a very, very successful model for their digital product, have about 50 per cent of their news stories that are free and about 50 per cent that are apparently paid for.”
Presenter: “So you’re not locked into the Times of London model where everything has gone behind the paywall?”
Freudenstein: “No, that’s exactly right. We’re going to look at, News Corp is experimenting with different models around the world. I think we’re quite attracted to the Wall Street Journal model where you get the benefit of still getting a lot of your advertising revenue combining it with the ability to market yourself to a whole range of people and then upselling them into the paid part of the site. We think that’s a pretty good model. That’s probably the model we’ll adopt down here.”
The Times relaunched on the web this summer with no free articles and blocking search sites, at £1 a day, £2 a week, free with a print subscription, £9.99 a month on iPad. WSJ.com is priced at $1.99 weekly but billed as $103.48 and includes some articles free to visitors from search listings.
News Digital is currently building sites with a paid infrastructure, due for a 2011 launch. While display advertising volume, and the audience for it, has diminished on TheTimes.co.uk and SundayTimes.co.uk, Freudestein says the Australian model “will be a dual revenue stream of advertising and subscription“.
Freudenstein is a Foxtel and seven-year BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) veteran, now chief of the digital arm of News Corp’s News Ltd. It’s not just on the pricing model News Digital won’t follow The Times…
Freudenstein: “We will be setting up ways that you’ll be able to and rules around being able to share articles that you have paid for, potentially with people who haven’t paid for it, but there’ll be rules around that so it’s not abused. But it absolutely has to be part of our strategy.
Presenter: “So it won’t be the same again as The London Times where everything is unsharable?”
Freudenstein: “I think everything is still in experimental stage at the moment and The Wall Street Journal, I think again, have adopted a more, more ability to share. We’re certainly going to introduce that into our apps very soon and we’re looking at a way to make sure that we’re part of the social media phenomenon.”