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Rupert Murdoch's News International may still have a long way to go in convincing the world that it can succeed by putting its newspaper websites behind a paywall, but that doesn't mean that News International isn't confident that it will eventually succeed with the paywall model.

In a sign of its confidence, it is putting the website of the UK's top-selling Sunday newspaper, News of the World, behind the News International paywall in October.

As detailed by The Guardian, access to content on notw.co.uk will soon cost readers £1 per day, or £1.99 if a four-week subscription is purchased. In addition, News of the World will offer up an iPad version costing £1.19 per week.

According to News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, "News International is leading the industry by delivering on its commitment to develop new ways of making the business of news an economically exciting proposition." Such a comment, however, might be called hyperbole by some given an analysis of News International's results thus far with The Times and Sunday Times, both of which went behind a paywall earlier this year.

But it's far too early to declare News International's paywall strategy a failure or success. This is a long-term strategy, and on paper, it may be a necessary one. Even if one is unsure about the viability of paywalls in general, it's clear that for most newspapers, the free buffet isn't working. Newspapers hoping that giving everything away for free will somehow become profitable might very well be called 'delusional'.

If there's one person who can afford to risk everything with a new approach, it's Rupert Murdoch. And that's precisely what he's doing. He might be insane, and he might be wrong, but somehow I suspect that the rest of the newspaper industry will thank him for his grand paywall experiment someday, win or lose.

Photo credit: World Economic Forum via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 17 September, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)

Ed Stivala

Ed Stivala, Managing Director at n3w media

"Newspapers hoping that giving everything away for free will somehow become profitable might very well be called 'delusional'." - Absolutely agree, and it is about time more people woke up to this basic reality.

about 6 years ago

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Ian Douglas

"Newspapers hoping that giving everything away for free will somehow become profitable might very well be called 'delusional'."

In what way is choosing to make money out of advertising rather than no money out of a paywall that no-one chooses to pass through 'delusional'? Paywalls are dogma, fed by an attachment to newspaper cover prices. Cover prices never came close to covering costs, especially in quality newspapers.

about 6 years ago

Rob Mclaughlin

Rob Mclaughlin, VP, Digital Analytics at Barclays

I value the Times' content extremely highly and had long been a more than daily visitor. I would happily have opted-in for a permission based marketing revenue driven model whereby the Times could collect data about me and my browsing in return for their content...surely more valueable than a subscription? It is the lack of imagination that makes me despise the paywall approach - the web offers a vast array of business models for publishing to succeed on, instead News Intl have just chosen their own, dysfunctional way to fail. In the end I will be able to enjoy Times journalist's writing, when the paper folds and the writers move to more developed pastures...

about 6 years ago

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