The chorus calling for the New York Times to charge a subscription fee for its online content grows a little louder.
Rupert Mudoch tweakes the NYT yesterday at The Cable Show (via paidcontent):
“People are getting used to getting everything on the net for nothing. That’s going to have to change somehow.” One change would the relationship with Google and others: “Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights? Not just Google. I think if you’ve got a brand like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal you don’t have to do that.”
Speaking of the NYT, Murdoch called NYTimes.com a “a very, very good website, employing 300 people” with ad rates that are too low and to his thinking can’t be raised because the inventory is doubling every year.” Then there are the classifieds, “a gold river draining away that probably will be gone forever.” How would the NYT do with a WSJ model that includes subscriptions? “I think they’d do fairly well.” Of course, it’s “no trouble” for a financial paper “with the history of the Journal” to charge $60-100 a year for the website. WSJ.com has more than 1 million subs, he noted, and that’s not a “gold mine.”
Picking on Google (GOOG) is a red herring — all that company does is aggregate content, including the WSJ (as Rupert knows).
But Rupert is right that the NYT needs to stop giving away the store for free. And contrary to what former WSJ Managing Editor Bill Grueskin says, we think there’s a good chance the NYT will be able to get a million or so subscribers to pay $75 for its service.
But that doesn’t solve the NYT’s problems: An extra $75 million a year in revenue would buy the Times a some breathing room, but it still won’t fix their problems without cutting costs — and deep.