Rupert Murdoch has just announced that he’ll be charging $1.50 a day, $3 a week ($155/year) for the privilege of reading the London Times and Sunday Times over the Internets.
In further craziness, he’s decided that an iPad subscription to the Wall Street Journal is worth $18/month, while one delivered by the regular Internet is around $8/month. I’d assume this means that the Journal is building a special iPad app that will do something other than deliver words to the screen of the iPad. Perhaps it will cause ice-cold beer to flow from the docking connector.
Maybe Rupert isn’t aware that the iPad will have a web browser and Internet connection that Journal subscribers can use if they want to save a sawbuck. Or, more likely, his iPad pricing is just another example of the SkyMall syndrome: the belief that one’s product is so special, and one’s audience is so captive, that a ridiculous surcharge will be tolerated.
I have no explanation for the Times pricing, other than the onset of senility.
Murdoch voluntarily putting right-wing propaganda behind an overpriced pay-wall?
Sounds good to me.
It’s not truly the first-lemming off the cliff — Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has been charging an on-line subscription fee since before Murdoch bought it. The Times of London and the Sunday Times have audiences which are, in many ways, more like the Journal’s than like, say, the New York Times’. As a result, this is a less hare-brained scheme than it may sound like.
Either that, or he realizes that folks who by the iPad and their money are easily parted.
Sorry to go O/T so early in the thread, but was just over at
DailyKos to see what’s in today’s Pundit Roundup, and happened to see this in DarkSyde’s *This Week in Science*:
Just amused me to see Cole and BJ cited in a science column :-)
The WSJ’s financial stuff is behind a wall, and it’s good stuff that can be charged for. Not sure what the LT and STL offer that’s worth the price.
Just so long as I can still get the Times.co.uk-produced Bugle Podcast with Andy Zalzman and John Oliver for free, his other content can go whistle.
I mean, I’d pay something for the NYT, but Murdoch?
Little does Mr. Murdoch know. It used to be said, relatively accurately, that the WSJ had some of the best news coverage, especially internationally, short of the BBC. You just had to stay off the op-ed page.
But since King Rupert took over, the news has become so much slant and spin. Rather than reporting what has happened, when it comes to US domestic news, they’ve shifted to speculative journalism. (What will happen tomorrow because of what happened yesterday. Or, what today’s headline — which they barely discuss — means to you, according to people who really know, like us.) Half of what goes in as analysis would have been thrown out of my college freshman journalism classes.
They already nuked the Friday wine column, which was one of my faves. I will miss Joe Morgenstern’s film reviews, which are about the best in the biz these days, but I won’t be renewing my subscription when it expires a little further on this year. But I haven’t gone there looking for news in a good while, mostly because it’s been awhile since I’ve found much.
The Wall St. Journal has always charged for its content. Since the very beginning. Even in the heyday of the dotcom stuff in the 90’s, the WSJ charged for content. Once the air went out of the dotcom bubble, the WSJ looked rather prescient in not giving away content for free.
I remember reading some interview with them at the time – before the collapse – and they just kept saying, “Giving away your product isn’t a sustainable revenue model. We don’t see how this can go on forever for these companies. So we’re charging for our content.” Etc. At the time they seemed very old fashioned and like they didn’t “get” the newfangled intertubes, but they were pretty much right.
Now no one expects the WSJ’s content to be free because it never was. Not sure that’s saved them financially, and since Rupert took over the paper’s gone to hell, but at least they don’t have to move from giving it away for free to charging for it.
The Grand Panjandrum
Nothing like a New Coke debacle to brighten up the day.
1. Charge readers for internet content.
Bill E Pilgrim
London Times and Sunday Times, yeah that’s pretty much like the Wall Street Journal, UK version. Possibly one of the few demographics in the world that will pay, enough of them to make it work anyway.
I do think even the WSJ has decreased its influence by restricting even some of it to paid customers, reduces linking and etc. Which of course is a very good thing. I have a lot of friends who would love to see the Times of London go behind a firewall entirely and disappear, including the print version.
Funny how fast the NYT gave up on that scheme, putting all of your most linkable writers behind a no-link firewall, yeah no one could have predicted that that wouldn’t work.
There was a time, many years ago, when The Times and the Sunday Times were must-reads for me (along with the Telegraph and the Guardian — my anglophile tastes are pretty catholic). But under Rupert’s fatherly embrace, they have become such pieces of trash that I haven’t even had them bookmarked as favourites for years and years. Thus, his recent decision won’t make a particle of difference to my personal reading habits. But it does sound to me that he’s going quite senile. The man is a lot of unpleasant things, but he’s not stupid and he’s always been a pretty savvy businessman, for better or worse. This just strikes me as a bad business model, and I really hope it is as I’m sure there are lots of other newspapers watching closely and prepared to mimic if he actually makes money and retains subscribers.
That happened decades ago.
Bill E Pilgrim
@Violet: I think it’s helped them financially but lessened their influence politically.
But that’s guesswork since who really knows, i.e. what it would have been otherwise.
Bill E Pilgrim
@SiubhanDuinne: In the UK it’s far more partisan which newspaper you read than we are in the US. One of the first times I was staying in London in the 80s, I brought a Times into the house of a Guardian reader who we were staying with and it was almost as if she wouldn’t allow it into the house. “That’s a bloody Tory paper, there!” she said, pointing an accusing finger.
Or more partisan than we used to be anyway, now the Washington Post is starting to seem like a Tory paper, to me.
The WSJ is trying to go head to head with the New York Times in the local NYC area, where local newspaper sales are still profitable. You have to read something on the subway.
Great news, the more walls between Murdoch’s propaganda and the plebs the better.
@Bill E Pilgrim:
Yeah, it’s hard to say. I do know that the paper has gone to hell since Rupert took over. It’s a shadow of its former self. Even my family members who have been stalwart WSJ readers for decades, and who are traditional conservative Republicans so are definitely the target demo, are frustrated with it. I’m not sure they’ll be renewing their subscriptions, which is pretty amazing given how long they’ve been reading it.
OT a bit, Beck lost his adverts on Fox. That means Beck is losing money for Murdock. How smart is that? amirite?
There has to be a balance between the content you get free and the content you get packaged.
The free pulls them in, and then you have an audience who might like the ebook version, or the video version, or the coffee cups. If a customer wants something, they will pay for it.
I think I see the flaw in Murdoch’s plan…
To those of you who say that the Times is like the WSJ: are you sure you don’t mean the Financial Times? I’ll buy that FT could (and does) survive behind a paywall, but we’re talking about the Times of London, which does not specialize in financial news.
For example, many corporations pay for WSJ subscriptions for management, and that’s part of the reason that the WSJ has been able to stay for-pay for all these years. Do British corps pay for Times of London subscriptions for their managers?
(That’s why I titled the post “First Lemming” — the Times is the first general-interest newspaper to put in a paywall.)
Our household subscribes to the FT. It’s changed in the last several years and seems to be trying to fill some niche the WSJ has left. It’s a far, far better paper than the WSJ these days as far as actual news reporting goes, imho.
@Warren Terra: gulp. or, rather, whimper. not The Bugle. I mean, yes, there’s the Now Show but . . .
Only DFHs buy Apple products and DFHs don’t read WSJ.
@Bill E Pilgrim: Yes, quite right about which papers you read in the UK being dead giveaways, not only to political leanings but also to class.
@Maude: Yes, good point about Beck. Is he still bleeding sponsors? It’s been a while since I checked the weekly tallies over at MMFA.
Pigs & Spiders
Murdoch—and pretty much every other news empire—is well and truly fucked. They have absolutely no business model available to them because they fail to see that the content they create is more often than not just plain poor. Niche news markets and hyperlocal news will win the day. If the NYT or Murdoch were smart, they’d have become personalized internet news portals where a user pays a monthly or annual fee for news that has been aggregated and presented together from all over the web based on your personal preferences. Essentially, they needed to become the Google of news, and it looks like Google will beat them to it before they ever really get in the race.
OT – This is great news for John Coal, I mean Cole
Hope this isn’t a picture of his back yard.
I will be reinstating my subscription to FT. The Times… not so much. And now that the BBC has put pretty much all its radio content online, I get some very good information that way.
Interestingly enough I just noticed in my Audible account that they are offering the WSJ as a complimentary subscription.
Leelee for Obama
It’s amazing to realize that, in this instance, the fewer people informed by a news source (so tongue in cheek), the better.
This is actually good news, so we should shut up about it so King Rupert doesn’t decide to change his mind just to screw with us, KWIM?
@Bill E Pilgrim:
Well, given our messed up media culture, I can definitely see a bit of that here. I know I’d immediately think worse of someone who brought up Fox News in an appreciative manner.
But yeah, in some parts of England, what paper can be deeply personal. Bringing in The Sun into a Liverpool home is pretty much asking for a death sentence.
Regarding the post, it works. Murdoch’s audience are right-wing paranoids and traditionally older. So a bunch of technophobic, immensely gullible morons are probably the target demographic for this crap. They won’t know that it’s special, how to skirt around the extra charge for iPad, etc…
Of course, this same demographic doesn’t really like the internet to begin with because it’s just porn and viruses and unruly children on their email asking them to stop forwarding racist email chains and stop replying to the nice Nigerian men who want to make them rich.
And I have to agree with most. The point of Murdoch’s empire was to poison politics in all the english speaking countries. If he wants to make an ill-conceived short-term financial move that will delightfully remove his toxicity behind a pay wall at the exact moment new media is ascendent, I want to encourage him mightily to make this standard across his mighty network. Let’s shut down any pretense to authoritative sources in the greater wingnutosphere once and for all.
Bill E Pilgrim
@mistermix: Well who knows, no just saying that the Times is a very conservative paper, thus read by City people, thus more apt to survive that a la the WSJ than say the Guardian would be.
The Financial Times is considerably less right wing than the London Times IMO, and yes I would actually think that corporations do pay for the London Times quite often.
In hotels in Europe it’s more often the FT that’s included I notice, but in corporate UK offices you’re going to see both.
Shorter version: It’s “general interest” yes, but only of interest to a certain class/economic level/political demo.
I miss the days when the NYT gave away its reporting for free but charged for the editorial/oped content.
That was the perfect model. All the other news sources should emulate it.
…note I’m not particularly thinking here about the business ramifications.
I was going to say this was off topic – but the topic seems to be lemmings. Be sure to read the comments for the full comedic effect.
Bill E Pilgrim
@Cerberus: A bit I agree. I was just surprised how much more so there.
I think it is akin to whether you watch FOX or MSNBC, but they have had that for ages in newspapers also. We didn’t use to have that kind of hard division so much in newspapers, not in the major ones at least. People might read both the NYT and the WSJ, in the past at least.
Wow! Anyone see the diary on GOS with the Firebaggers crying about AT&T losing a corporate subsidy created by Bush? Apparently, removing Bush’s corporate giveaways means the bill is a failure. Unbelievable.
“Perhaps it will cause ice-cold beer to flow from the docking connector.”
They have an app for that?! ! !
Before, I thought the IPad looked like a colossal waste of money, but if beer comes out of the docking connector…Dude, I’ll be the first in line.
“don’t eat the brown antacid”. heh, indeedy.
Which now would be the perfect time to honor the Nostradamus-like prescience of the silver medal winner for the BJ Comment of the Year (2009 edition) beltane:
The teabagger protests of the future will feature partially clothed, excrement covered fat people shrieking incomprehensible gibberish. It will be the Woodstock of the damned. For the motherfucking win.
@Cat Lady: I so honor beltane.
OT, and apologies for linking pout-rager Glennzilla, but is he right about Cass Sunstein?
@Bob K: I love Reid’s statement at the end.
@SiubhanDuinne: I saw a blurb that he is bleeding sponsers in Britian. Good.
I just read that. Awesome! Good for him for highlighting the benefits to his constituents of this silly rally.
I really hope Harry Reid gets a bump in the polls for getting health care done and the reconciliation bill passed through the Senate pretty quickly. He did his job with minimal fuss, really. At least recently.
Look, I think Rupert Murdoch’s acts in this world have made it a much worse place; he’s caused hatred, death, ignorance and pain on a vast scale. He’s a very bad guy. He’s corrupted the political governance of several countries, including the United States. For the rest of humanity, I think it’s better that he had never been born: literally.
But his net worth is far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far beyond anything you will ever achieve in your lifetime. Saying stuff like this makes you look foolish. In my opinion, Murdoch is a malign entity. But he’s not an idiot.
This is a great start! May I suggest making Fox News into a pay channel? All those die-hard Glenn, Sarah and Bill fans will surely fork over $$$ for their fix, right?
Leelee for Obama
I’m listening to BookTV on c-span, and the discussion is about the French and Indian War. Interesting and all that, but a phrase was just used that make me want to mention something somewhat OT for this thread , but not overall.
The next time “keeping their powder dry” comes up in relation to the Democrats getting hammered by the opposition, could we invoke a benefit of the doubt that maybe, just maybe, the Democrats are actually holding some major quantity of powder and are, indeed, keeping it in a dry location?
Back to the regularly scheduled thread.
joe in oklahoma
who reads the Times anyway? read the Guardian or the Independent. real news, decent thinking.
I hope Murdoch remembers to keep those $UPER-VALUABLE right-wing editorials behind the pay wall. Wouldn’t want anyone reading those for free.
@Ty Lookwell: funny thing about the word “onset” . . .
Ah, the “self-made rich people are smart” argument.
No, not necessarily. They’re seldom even self-made. Case in point, Rupert Murdoch:
Is Murdoch an idiot? I don’t know, probably not, as he’s proven himself a competent magnate, if mangnatehood is defined by the accumulation of assets that, eventually, turn a profit.
But a business genius? No, he’s probably not that either. He started off very rich and made himself richer. It’s not hard to make a home run when you’re plopped out of the womb 2 inches from the plate.
Given the circumstances, we can just as easily chalk up Murdoch’s business success to luck as well as savvy, and, frankly, I think it’s more likely.
Also: see Scav’s note regarding “onset”.
Yep, this is the problem. The content of the Times and Sunday Times is not really specialized enough to command a premium price.
The other problem that Rupie, and other publishers have, is how to keep a paywall from turning into an unlinkable prison, as happened with the NY Times, when their paywall kept their columnists out of sight and out of mind.
I don’t think so. Most hyperlocal news is boring and niche news often appeals to so few people that even the reporters themselves lose interest as they post their stories.
The more interesting question is why any sentient being would pay any amount of money for access to WSJ in a world where there is FT.
I have an iPad pre-ordered, for pickup a week from today. Still looking for a couple of apps that will make it a business tool rather than merely a cool toy.
He has a talent at extracting money from bigger idiots than he is. For me, that translates out to savant status.
In his inimitable fashion, Greenwald misses the point. Sunstein is a formidable intellect and a distinguished constitutional law scholar. He would be a fantastic choice for the Supremes. Greenwald’s case against Sunstein is superficially plausible, but given the other things Sunstein brings to the table I don’t see the things Greenwald is bitching about as disqualifiers. YMMV.
What was the net worth of Sir Keith when that wealth was passed to Rupert Murdoch?
What is the present net worth of Rupert Murdoch?
How did Rupert Murdoch make his money?
Is he senile, as mistermix has implied? Were his business decisions, which led to the disparity between Sir Keith’s wealth and Rupert Murdoch’s, due to senile business decisions?
Were they due to “luck?”
Do you think that was a sound assessment? That Rupert Murdoch is senile and he made these business decisions because of dementia?
Yes, I’m puzzled by that as well. The days when one could rely on the separation of the news pages from editorial at the WSJ clearly ended the day the news sections started describing estate taxes as “death taxes”.
The finance and banking industries rely upon fast, up-to-date, accurate, information. If WSJ is going to become just a better financed edition of Inverstor’s Business Daily combined with The Sun, then I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that the Journal will soon have equivalent subscription numbers and web revenue.
But yeah, from a business perspective, the choice between WSJ and FT is close to a no brainer — and the only reason I say “close to” instead of “completely” is that the Journal can still be said to have a meaningful local edge given FT’s London focus.
@Ty Lookwell: I don’t know, Ty. You obviously have an internet connection. If you want to build an argument based on those contentions, why don’t you look up the answers yourself and tell us.
Here, I’ll even give you a link to get you started:
“This is a great start! May I suggest making Fox News into a pay channel? All those die-hard Glenn, Sarah and Bill fans will surely fork over $$$ for their fix, right?”
The irony being that for some surely non-trivial number of potential Fox News subscribers, the only reason they will be able to afford to subscribe is … the partial closing of the Medicare Part D “donut hole” by … That Commie Mooslim Nigra Not-Really-the-President.
I’m going to defend Rupert in concept here, since I’ve long argued that a direct revenue model off of the iPad is a way out for publishers.
For a reasonable price (yeah, $18/mo would qualify for a top-rate daily) I’d be happy to have a portable, searchable, clippable, ad-free, audio and video enhanced daily. It doesn’t need to have any more print content than the newstand copy, but add in audio and video and some better charts and graphics (hook the financial stuff up to proper dynamic financial charts, for instance) and I think it’d be a winner. I’d pay that for the NYTimes and a few others (not for WaPo).
By comparison, the web content needs to scale back to reflect the revenues it brings in, which due to ad blockers and other things (including shitty content for a lot of these guys) is struggling. Maybe some content won’t be available on the web – maybe only the stuff that can support itself shows up there.
I think there’s a stronger argument for this for color weeklies and monthlies, but if dailies paired up with a broadcast outfit that doesn’t have a big web news presence (like NYT/CBS sometimes does) they could deliver a pretty decent hybrid product that exceed the web, print, and broadcast versions. Rupert is one of the guys that has enough properties to do this effectively, but somehow I doubt he’ll pull it together.
Ummm, huh? GG’s point is that while Sunstein may be a distinguished professor and formidable intellect, he is pretty much of an anti-civil liberties kind of guy. What “other things” that Sunstein brings to the table overcome that? John Roberts is a pretty smart guy with great credentials, too — are you happy about him being on the Court?
If you have some information that Sunstein, contra Greenwald, is NOT anti-civil liberties and can link to it, that would be great.
The best, most comprehensive “news” site on the Internet is, hands down, espn.com. One assumes it is heavily subsidized. It also gets a significant amount of its content by having the cable channel’s “experts” convert their on-air copy to print.
The network news operations could do this. It would succeed, albeit not with this crowd, which is capable of evaluating the quality of what it would get.
Knock yourself out.
By way of clarification, Sunstein would not be my first choice. I think Koh would be a better choice. I think that someone who appears to not be on any of the lists that are being bandied about, UC Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, would be better. But I could easily live with Sunstein.
One final point.
I’d love to see Greenwald’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees that he would find acceptable. I’d then like to hear him articulate a strategy for getting any of them confirmed that would have anything to do with reality.
Being a gadfly is easy. Getting in the game is harder. Greenwald has shown no inclination to do the latter.
RE: The more interesting question is why any sentient being would pay any amount of money for access to WSJ in a world where there is FT.
I don’t know. The Internets has unleashed torrents of punditry and ideology based pseudo-journalism that is eagerly lapped up by the right and left (although the right seems to be far more addicted to nonsense over substance). The WSJ feeds this yearning very well.
The financial industry loves to hang onto conventional wisdom and fantasy as much as they depend on accurate information. Otherwise, we would not have had a financial meltdown. But I take your larger point that financial readers are willing to pay for what they perceive has value to them.
But the larger dilemma is that what works for the WSJ does not translate to the London Times. Here everyone is struggling for a business model that works.
@burnspbesq: Chemerinsky would be awesome, but if you thought the wise latina was bad, the collective freakout over Erwin would be monumental. I don’t see how he doesn’t get filibustered into oblivion.
You mean the site that regularly imposes self-censorship when an athlete that it does business with is involved in legal wrangles? While everyone else in the universe had stories about the rape allegations involving Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, espn was strangely quiet.
In a recent Fresh Air interview following up his profile of Justice Stevens, Jeffery Toobin suggested that the Obama administration was leaning toward Solicitor General Elena Kagan as a potential nominee. One big point in her favor here is that it would be hard for the GOP to oppose her since they had previously approved her in confirmation hearings.
BTW, a link to the New Yorker profile of Justice Stevens is here. Very good piece if you have not seen it already.
Wut? Have you been in a coma the last 50 years or something? Your assertion is that something other than full-throated partisanship will define this vote. Do you have any evidence to suggest that the GOP won’t try to shut down the government over this or any other nomination?
The real trick, of course, is making the shiny new object boring enough that the 16 year old loses interest quickly. Then you’ll know it will be more than a cool toy. Striking that right balance though, aye, there’s the rub.
RE: One big point in her favor here is that it would be hard for the GOP to oppose her since they had previously approved her in confirmation hearings.
I was quoting Toobin, here. He may be wrong, but he was implying that he had some insight into Obama Administration thinking here. Let’s go to the transcript:
Any argument you have is with Toobin, not me.
Well, damn it, get that Toobin over here right now so we can hash this out!
Mike in NC
Was there ever a billionaire who wasn’t a greedy rat bastard?
And here I thought that the cost of paper, ink, printing, and distribution of a physical container of their ramblings was some significant cost greater than zero.
Guess Murdoch has straightened me out on that regard.
@Dr. Swanger: A-yep. They’re the Moonie Times with a slightly different typeface.
The Financial Times is a much better paper anyway.
Well, his product is special: jingoistic, biased, and fact-free; and his audience is captive — exposure to the reality-based community would probably give them an aneurysm. So, he’ll charge what he likes and his dependant
addictsfools will gladly part with their money.
@Martin: While I agree in theory, $18 a month is probably not reasonable for *any* publication at this point. I suspect as a general rule, asking for more than you charge for your print publication–no matter how theoretically spiffier your iPad/Flash/3D hologram incarnation is–will prove to be a bad idea. I liked the previous comment someone made about “SkyMall syndrome,” but MisterMix’s original post highlights the fallacy of it: anybody who has a web browser is not a captive audience, and anybody who has an iPad has a web browser. Perhaps Murdoch will convert the WSJ site to be 100% Flash to ensure that anyone with an iPad *must* use his app, but…
@burnspbesq: I don’t think it will be particularly difficult to find productivity apps for the iPad within the next few months. The “general wisdom” underestimates what the architecture is capable of, I think (speaking as a nominal developer).
And yet ESPN covered themselves in ignominy with an insane screed about Obama’s Evil Scheme to ban recreational fishing.
In further craziness, he’s decided that an iPad subscription to the Wall Street Journal is worth $18/month, while one delivered by the regular Internet is around $8/month.
Nothing new. The Kindle price is similarly disconnected from reality at $15 a month. I think of it as a convenience tax – Stanza is capable of grabbing the material from the RSS feeds and packaging it up onto the kindle if you have an online subscription, but it doesn’t automagically show up on the kindle via whispernet.