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When Google purchased YouTube for $1.65bn in late 2006, some wondered whether the acquisition would be the Web 2.0 equivalent of Yahoo's ill-fated billion-dollar purchase of Broadcast.com during the first .com boom.
It was hard not to be somewhat skeptical: YouTube was an expensive operation to run and was facing the same type of legal assault from Hollywood that basically killed Napster 1.0 years earlier.
Paid content is and has been a big business -- if you're in the right market.
Unfortunately for consumer-oriented news organizations, the right market isn't their market.
But could that be changing?
Can paid content save newspapers? For many newspapers, there is good reason to be skeptical.
But trying to get readers to pay for content is a necessary move and naturally, major dailies like The New York Times are having an easier go of it.
The past decade has been tough for newspapers, but many newspaper execs are arguably more upbeat about the future than one might expect.
There may be a need for that optimism, but it might also be completely unfounded if new figures about newspaper revenue in 2011 are any indication.
The New York Times is giving pay wall skeptics reason to reconsider their skepticism. Despite questions about the company's paywall strategy, the daily has managed to lure some 325,000 paying subscribers.
That's good news for a newspaper that some believed might not survive.
Can a prominent comedian shake up the comedy business by producing his own event and selling it to consumers online in digital format DRM-free? Thanks to Louis CK's experiment, we now know the answer is yes.
More than 100,000 comedy fans have snapped up 'Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theater' for $5, earning the comedian a healthy profit and sparking a discussion about digital content, business models and pricing.
Here's what you can learn from Louis CK's experiment.
Yesterday, Netflix announced that its aggressive international expansion plans will bring its internet movie and television streaming service to the U.K. and Ireland in early 2012.
The announcement should have been a bright spot for a company which has been flying high for the past several years. But it was overshadowed by a bout of bad news: last quarter, Netflix lost 800,000 subscribers in the U.S.
Investing millions to launch an iPad-only publication may prove to be one of the best ways of making a small fortune from a large fortune, but for traditional publishers that have been hawking their wares on the iPad, Kindle and NOOK, tablets are starting to have an impact.
That's according to two executives from Condé Nast and Hearst who took part in a panel at the American Magazine Conference.
Both indicated that their companies are close to achieving $10m in revenue from tablets.
Earlier this year, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. announced that it was making a significant bet on tablet devices.
The bet: that an iPad-only news publication could launch and thrive at a time when many established news publications were struggling to survive.
"New times demand new journalism," Murdoch proclaimed. And with eight figures in investment in The Daily, he stated confidently, "we believe The Daily will be the model for how stories are told and consumed in this digital age".
Half a year later, however, The Daily appears to be off to a slower start than Murdoch may have anticipated.
While many publishers in the West struggle to build profitable paywalls, I recently reported that a paywall in the East may provide a blueprint for success.
That paywall was erected in Slovakia by a company called Piano Media. It brought together nine of Slovakia's largest news publishers, and the early results are impressive given the size and characteristics of the Slovakian market.
When Apple announced the iPad, many executives in the publishing industry voiced high hopes for the tablet device. "This could be the technology that helps us capitalize on digital," they effectively said in one way or another.
Of course, today we know that the iPad isn't a panacea for traditional publishers. That, of course, doesn't mean that tablet devices aren't important to them, or that they should abandon all hope.
But how much hope is too much hope?
Here's a question most publishers would love to have an answer to: what's the secret to building a successful pay wall?
Although one might expect major publishers like the New York Times to eventually provide the answer, newspapers in Slovakia may have beat their Western counterparts to the task.