The Sun, the flagship London tabloid of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. newspaper empire, will stop being free on the internet and go behind a paywall, Ad Age reports.
It may be making a huge mistake.
The Sun is best known for its topless “Page 3” girls and its scoops about celebrities and their sex lives. That stuff is widely available for free just about everywhere else on the web.
The paper is hoping its readers will pay for access to highlights of Premier League soccer matches. It has paid $30 million for the rights to show football recaps.
Generally, consumers have been willing to pay to watch Premier League soccer. Fox Soccer Channel in the U.S. (another News Corp property), has long had a subscription-based viewership for its exhaustive live coverage of matches.
The web — and highlights in particular — are different, however. The need of fans to see something live is very different from their need to see post-game highlights. The drama of “live” can’t be replicated post-facto. (Anyone who has ever recorded a game to watch later knows there’s something strangely depressing about waiting for a result that has already happened.) You can watch highlights anytime.
And, of course, game highlights — like topless women — are widely available all over the net. My favourite place to see recaps of games that I’ve missed (aside from BI’s Sports Page, of course) is FootyRoom.com. That’s just one of dozens of places that publish highlights.
Unless Murdoch has a plan to shut down every last one of them, it’s tough to imagine why anyone would want to pay The Sun to see what’s free elsewhere.
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