Everyone assumes that Rupert Murdoch will make all or most of the Wall Street Journal‘s online product free, sacrificing subscription revenue in order to gain more ad dollars down the road. They think this, in large part, because that’s what Murdoch has said he wants to do. Bad call, says Larry Kramer, founder of MarketWatch, the comparatively downmarket online business site also owned by Dow Jones: Best to make MarketWatch the free site and keep the Journal a premium product, Kramer suggests.
But check the reams of Murdoch coverage generated in the last six months and you’ll be hard pressed to see him rhapsodizing about the possibilities of expanding MarketWatch. It’s the Journal – and in large part the Journal’s online version – that he’s excited about owning, and expanding. Unlikely he sees that happening with a subscription product. New York Times.
Meanwhile, Fred Wilson makes exactly the opposite argument. Why is the WSJ not as much of a force online as it is offline, Fred asks? Because of the wall. The NYT gets 10x the WSJ’s pageviews. In other words, the WSJ is making itself 1/10th as relevant as it could be to protect a measly $75 million in revenue. Set the WSJ free, Fred says. Set it free!