The Financial Times is one of the few major print publishers that has
succeeded in a big way with paid content. And while other print
publishers who hoped that the iPad would help them revitalize their
businesses struggle with the iPad, the FT looks like it has extended its
existing success to the platform.
According to The Guardian, the FT's iPad app has now produced more than
£1m in ad revenue since it was released to the public in May. What's
more: of the 400,000 people who have downloaded the app, a decent number
are subscribing; the iPad app now delivers 10% of the FT's new digital
Is paid content the online future of the newspaper business? While there's plenty of discussion and debate on the subject, if you listen to enough newspaper executives, you might come away with the impression that they think it has to be.
But while many newspapers contemplate paid content and talk up their plans, The Financial Times has actually been executing a paid content strategy.
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The Financial Times is lucky. It's in the minority of newspapers that
can legitimately claim to have found 'success' with an internet pay wall.
The company's subscribers pay upwards of $180 a year to access content
on the Financial Times' website, FT.com, which is behind one of the more
solid pay walls around.
But that pay wall isn't impervious; it may be coming down if you're a certain type of mobile internet user in certain geographic regions. That's because,
according to Business Insider, the Financial Times will soon launch an
initiative with Foursquare that will give some Foursquare users who check
into certain businesses in certain locations the ability to access
FT.com without a paid subscription.
Reports have surfaced indicating that, after much internal discussion and debate, the New York Times is ready to announce its much talked-about subscription model.
According to sources who spoke with New York Magazine, the NYT has settled on a metered model under which NYT online content will remain free but after a certain number of views, users will be prompted to subscribe for further access.
Charging for news content online may be a tough sell, but for financial publications that have a stable of institutional subscriptions, it's a bit easier. That's one of the reasons that The Financial Times is setting optimistic predictions for the new year.
After raising print subscription rates last year, the FT grew its online subscriber base 30% and saw an increase in corporate clients. Beyond that, the paper is set to see content revenues overtake print advertising revenue for the first time this year.
Rupert Murdoch is going all in on paid content. The News Corp. head anounced yesterday during an earnings call that all of his publications will be charging for access within this fiscal year.
The announcement has been met with both derision and excitement. Charging for news content has the potential to shrink audience numbers and choke ad revenue. But as publications struggle to find the right revenue model, Murdoch's decision could pave the way for other organizations that have been talking a lot about charging online but doing little about it.
So will News Corp. sink or swim with its plans to charge for content? The answer, as with anything: it depends on execution.