Would You Pay For A Newspaper Online?

Publishers like Rupert Murdoch see the future of newspapers as charging for content online, but a recent study suggests most Australians aren't prepared to cough up.

Picture by blackcustard

At her Content Makers blog on Crikey, Margaret Simons analyses a survey of 800 Australian Internet users by Swinburne University. Of those, 70 per cent said they weren't willing to pay anything to read an online newspaper. While it's one thing to say you won't pay and another thing to be faced with the prospect of your favourite site being behind a paywall, the numbers still suggest that free is the future for online content.

I suspect most Lifehacker readers are very much at the front of this curve (and given some of the decisions newspapers currently make about how to cover major events, that's no surprise). But it's worth asking nonetheless: how much, if anything, would you pay for newspaper content online? Tell us your price in the comments.

Will Australians Pay for Content Online – New Survey Data [Crikey]


    I've always been on the "no way in hell!" side on this subject, but it's just occurred to me that if News Corp were to start charging for access to their Australian sites (news.com.au, theaustralian.com.au, dailytelegraph.com.au) and then Fairfax followed suit, I would have nowhere to turn for my local online news fix.

    I still think paying for general mainstream news is a joke - there will always be someone offering that content for free online, even if it is at the expense of quality/accuracy/timeliness. For specialised content like New Scientist or The Economist, I would consider it.

      You're forgetting the ABC


        Thank you. That's one viable alternative, but it raises the issue of choice (at least for me).

    It would have to be a marginable fee and they would have to remove advertising and improve navigation drastically.

    Even so, i probably wouldn't out of spite.

    The current online news sites (and the majority of Nwws Corp's printed newspapers) are non-glossy "womens mags" (all about who's cheating on who, etc) with a few actual news articles thrown in so most don't recognise that fact.

    I'd consider paying for a real news site provided the content was worth it.

    I can see a Freemiuim model working but only if they get the mix/balance right. Given the total inability of the Old Media to understand and embrace the new economy of the new media... highly unlikely they will "get it". Or do it right.

    I would pay, ONLY if they offer me a Premium service, much greater than they currently do. The same experience as getting the dead-tree version. And I'm only paying a small amount, say $2.50/week or $100/year. And for my $$$ I want access to the full search able archive of stories.

    And most important of all... I need to be able to access the Premium service from ANY of MY devices. If they try to DRM lock this type of thing... then it's good bye for good.

    I think I pretty much agree with Tim and StevoTheDevo.

    I'm not on principle opposed to paying for news content online - but there would have to be no ads and reliably good content.

    Where this would work really well for them is in a scenario with no network neutrality. So that newscorp (or whoever) could partner with one or more ISP's, rather than trying to sell to individual customers.

    I'd use the ABC, BBC and Reuters, which are all free and high quality, a lot of the stories that commercial operators could be from www.ap.org anyway.

    Based on the fact that the same news story would mostly be available elsewhere, I wouldn't pay and I'd go elsewhere. This sounds like pay tv to me.

    Not for web based no. I might pay to subscribe if I could get it delivered to my Kindle with all the pictures and content.

    Another issue would be not being able to send links to interested parties if they themselves were not subscribers. eg Discussion groups, peers, wife etc.

    Perhaps a pay-per-article model, where I'm paying literally cents per article... that way I don't have to read any of the stuff I don't want to, and can skim read the headlines for stuff that's of secondary interest. I can choose whether or not to pay for a stupid article about Tom & Katie's secret underground lair(s) etc.

    No I would not pay for News Paper on line. I already pay for a basic Cable TV package mainly for News (and some movies of course.)

    I expect newspapers to make money out of advertising. Sky News on cable does that. And SMH etc on line have plenty of Ads including video.

    If Murdoch wants to ALSO charge customers then he can try - I will not be with him

    I don't even pay for a physical news paper now, let alone paying for a digital copy online.

      What do you mean when you say you don't pay for physical newspapers now?
      Do you mean you somehow acquire a physical newspaper but don't pay for it?
      I doubt it. I think what you're saying is that you read news for free online in preference to buying a physical paper, which is exactly why some media owners are wanting to find a way to recoup their costs.

    I think they would need to reconsider what journalism is before they started charging money.
    Eg a story is not a regurgitated press release - it is not changing the heading on a previously published article for a different slant when something new happens.

    Most articles on news sites are based on imformation sources in places that the average person can get to, eg the Police Media Website, Government press releases - eg - the RBA website when you want to know when the rates rise - you can find out quicker then by waiting for someone to press publish on a news article. ABS and the new states - All they are is repeated almost word for word of the release and some minor social commentary. Even the RSPCA have a media centre if you were looking to write an article on something.

    I think I would survive without a news subscription, my Rss reader would keep me informed enough.

    Company Media releases,

    I read the SMH online every day and usually take a quick look at the Australian, too. If both started charging, I'd just go to ABC (which strikes me as more balanced anyway). If the ABC website disappeared, my morning ABC radio fix would suffice.

    Even if the websites stay free, I'd be willing to pay a small amount for a Kindle edition of the SMH. Perhaps $2/week, so not what the publishers would consider reasonable, but that's about the value to me.

    Eh, well if they decide to have people paying for online newspapers, how long would it take for somebody to 'rip' and allow everybody to read it without charge?

    i'd love to see a breakdown of how much of its revenue a newspaper generates from advertisers as opposed to readers. my feeling is that most comes from advertisers and i see no reason why this has to change in the digital world.

    in fact, as they transition to digital publications, newspapers should see a reduction in costs associated with printing and distribution which would partially or fully offset the loss of $1.20 (or thereabouts) per reader. anybody got the numbers on this?

    The value of a media outlet is only partially in the subscription revenue it brings in. The influence the pollies believe it has is also a major part of the equation.

    Per Sarahs comment, media companies need to consider just what journalism is. With facts and opinion available from a wide variety of established and new sites the old push-propoganda model is becoming less effective. SMH is a good example of failing to understand that this doesnt work so well anymore. With a pro global warming and anti NSW labor govt stance can we trust any articles on these topics to be fair and factual. The lack of critical reporting on the various terror plots that pop-up just when needed to justify our military misadventures also shames our journalists and their august institutions.

    Charge for content - excellent. A bit like the last dinosours competing for the shade umbrella market. The quicker they start the quicker they are finished.

    Murdoch is just another old, tired businessman who is too lazy to adjust his outdated business model to take into account the internet. There's been a million of them throughout history and in the end he'll be just another one. Its called capitalism.

      Paul hit the nail on the head. Its time Murdoch grew up and worked out the market is changing. Sure he can create a 'premium account' with no ads and a better layout, but i wouldn't hold your breath murdoch :)

    Deliver it to me on my Apple Tablet in a decent format, and I will cancel my physical subscription and pay.....less...

    I have News corp RSS feeds on my PC and Phone and do access News content online - but I would definately not pay a subscription for what is available at the moment. I acknowledge journalists etc have to be paid but the content available at the moment is not compelling enough to make me fork out $ to access it.

    Perhaps it is because I am 50 - but I really enjoy the whole process of reading a physical broadsheet like the Sydney Morning Herald.

    I don't have a specialist reader like a Kindle yet but I don't feel the "experience" will be the same as a physical newspaper - still I am realistic enough to accept that economically and enviromentally that is the way things will head.

    I doubt I will get a specialist reader such as the Kiddle - one of the more functional "slates" wich are coming out this year which have some PC (Word Processing, Calendar, browing et) & media functionality (podcasts & video) as well as acting as a reader I think will be far more useful. I want one device to carry to do all I want to do.

    For sites that charge a subscrption - and if I decide to pay for it - they will have to sort out access issues as I would definately want to be able to access the content on the various devices I have e.g. phone, PC and eventually the "slate" device I purchase. Also I am not the only one in our household that reads the newspaper - so if I am poaying for it electronically I don't want to pay a second fee for my wife to read it.

    Murdoch is welcome to charge what he likes for his C-grade products, I certainly never read them. I get most of my news from SMH, the ABC and BBC.
    News Ltd has such second rate journos e.g. Piers Akkerman, Andrew Bolt et al, I just don't get the appeal of rags like the Terrorgraph. I'm all for different viewpoints but Pu-LEASE!!

    I don't think I would pay for a straight subscription to a single newspaper's website.

    I would pay if the content were somehow bundled.

    News Corporation own a lot of content on TV, Print and Online.
    How about if they offered their TV content online and allowed you to bundle TV channels with content from newspapers?
    2010 should see the start of people using their mobile phones as a means of payment, so how about a subscription that's tied to your phone allowing you to view TV, read the paper and pick up one physical newspaper per day? That'd be attractive to a lot of commuters.
    How about deal being done with ISPs and hotspot owners? Queensland Rail [will?] offer free Wi-Fi on their trains. They could offer a premium service that includes access to subscription sites, perhaps tied to their Go Card?

    So whilst I probably wouldn't pay for straight access to their websites, I would pay for access to their content.

    Publishers made a huge mistake letting people have free access for this long so of course people are going to begrudge having to pay for what is now considered a free service. Plus publishers seem wedded to an outmoded business model that doesn't fit with new technology.
    Short answer: I ain't paying.

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