Aussies won’t pay for online news

Despite Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp making serious noises about charging for its online news, a recent Pure poll of 18,000 Australians are not impressed; 78 per cent don’t want a bar of it.

Only 5 per cent said they would pay for “high-quality articles” and only 7 per cent said they would pay but only if there was no advertising.

A poll in the UK of 3310 people delivered similar results, except an overwhelming 80 per cent would refuse to pay for online news.

In B&T’s online poll, 75.4 per cent of 22,455 respondents answered “not under any circumstances” to the question of paying for online news.

Are there any surprises here? If you had to pay for something that was previously free, of course you’d kick up a fuss. But even technically the internet is not ‘free’, as there are connection fees, usage rates etc.

Ed Smith, chief commercial officer of News Digital Media in Australia, is not fazed by the poll results. He told the Sydney Morning Herald last week:

“If you ask them yes or no, everyone says no. But if you do more in-depth research about what they consume, where and why and how they would be prepared to pay for it, you see very different results in line with our strategy.”

Richard FreudensteinRichard Freudenstein

Richard Freudenstein, chief executive officer of News Digital Media said as much at a PANPA forum earlier this month. It comes down to “customers, content and context”. News Corp continues to site The Wall St Journal as an example of a print media that now has more than a million online subscribers. In his speech Freudenstein also mentioned the success of Sky TV and iTunes – people paying for the content they want. He spoke of Factiva, a “brilliant technology platform” acquired by News Corp.

“It brings together content from more than 20,000 sources … and more than 400 continuously updated newswires … We believe all of this is worth paying for.”

Freudenstein is convinced people will go to the “news brands they know and trust”. In Australia, it’s either News Corp or Fairfax. He concluded with a not-so-convincing final two points:

“Firstly, charging for a product, even when there is a free alternative, is not a radical or outrageous proposition. If your content has real value, then people will happily pay for it.

Secondly, News is confident we will be successful. We know that there is a market.”

Would you pay for online news content if the NZ Herald started charging you?

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