Consumers Want More Free Content; Media Promises Less

June 15, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Broadcast & Cable | Financial Services | Newspapers

As more media head honchos predict that valuable content online will become a commodity that must be paid for, a new study has found that the recession is impacting media consumption and causing more consumers to seek out more free content, reports MediaBuyerPlanner.

MediaNews Group, publisher of 54 daily newspapers including The Denver Post and the Detroit News, recently announced that it will begin charging for its newspaper content online, and News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch says the current free access business model is flawed and on its last legs. Barry Diller, CEO of IAC/InterActive Corp., also believes that the internet is passing from its free phase into a paid system, he told attendees at the Advertising 2.0 conference. “Inevitably, I promise you, it will be paid. Not every single thing, but everything of any value.”

Time Warner’s CEO recently hinted that the company is considering selling online content that it currently offers for free.

Meanwhile, recent research in the UK reveals that consumers are continuing to move toward a desire for free media. According to a study conducted by The7Stars, more than a quarter of consumers plan to reduce or cancel their satellite or cable TV subscriptions, up from 15% just six months ago, writes the UK’s? Mediaweek. 46% plan to stop buying their current newspaper if the price increases.

“There is a huge debate over whether consumers should be paying for media and newspapers,” said Jenny Biggam, founding partner at The7Stars. “In the last five to 10 years, consumers have become more motivated towards free media.”

Consumers have learned to expect free content online, but that is nothing more than an “accident of historical moment that will be corrected,” Diller said. The only thing missing in making formerly free content into a paid model is a billing system, similar to Amazon’s “one-click” button or the iPhone’s easy downloading of paid applications, he said, ZDNet reports.


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