A particularly brilliant Guardian Media podcast [14th March] flowed from my Creative Zen Plus, through a pair of Sony cans, via my wingnut ears and into my brain this week. It raised a number of interesting reflections regarding the future of the world………
Monetizing content: When it comes to news sites it seems that ‘free’ is where it’s at. This got me thinking. Exactly ten years ago this month .Net magazine ran a front cover with the headline "The End of The Free!" and asked the question "How long will it be before we start paying for our favourite websites?". With the benefit of hindsight, we can now say at least TEN YEARS!!! But back in 1998 most of us thought that Hotmail / Rocketmail would eventually start to charge. We didn’t think that Google would do good things like allowing free access to online word processor apps.
Today, WSJ and FT.com are examples of only a handful of newspaper sites that have a pay-wall. FT has changed its policy. You get access to 30 articles a month for free. Above that, you’ve got to flash the cash (to the tune of 98 smackers). To me that just sounds like one of the most irritating and moronic subscription models known to mankind. Rival business newspaper the WSJ still has most of its stuff stuck firmly behind a wall. It has 1.3million subscribers – very useful in an ad downturn, but it doesn’t get you Google placements or indeed links on blogs.
As Emily Bell of The Guardian said: "If you’re not on Google people are not reading your journalism." You could also say that if people can’t link to you then they won’t be talking about you. Also people won’t buy your paper just because you don’t have a website. The people that look at your website are a different audience to those who buy the paper.
‘Reach’ first, followed by (hopefully) ‘revenue’. The web is all about reach. I still think newspapers need to come up with more innovative discounts for their loyal print readers – the type of people that get the paper delivered.
Finally DAB Radio: As with the manufacturers of Freeview boxes, DAB radios seem to be made by strange companies, like Pure and Goodmans. The likes of Sony and Panasonic aren’t that interested in supplying to little old-UK – not until there is a European DAB standard. This also explains why Halfords won’t sell me a DAB stereo for my car. And the boffins at Honda RnD lab in Tokyo care not one jot that I want to listen to BBC 6 Music in my Civic.This has the potential to stifle growth because your only other big audience for DAB is the housewives and the dish-washers of the world. Everyone else will access via broadband. Or you could listen via your digital TV (but that just feels REALLY strange to have the TV on, but no picture). The podcast was highly critical of Channel 4 Radio’s strategy on the DAB issue, but you have to take the Guardian view with a lump of salt as the publishers are rivals in this sector.
To make sense of the above download this fine podcast via: Media Talk podcast: a new future for Channel 4 and a round-up of the Changing Media Summit | Media | guardian.co.uk.