News Corp Updates ‘I read Playboy for the Articles’ For Paywall Strategy

The News of the World will put up its paywall next month. Trails for the new version (notw.co.uk) are all over the existing site, the Guardian has more details: £1 for a day’s access and £1.99 for a four-week subscription.

Good luck to them; I’m keen to see how media companies can convince people to pay for online content. Or, more accurately, how mass-market newspapers can charge for news.

The Times has seen a 90% drop in traffic since its paywall went up in July, reports claim, despite plenty of comms spend (TV ad here). Of more concern, decent scoops are missing Google’s breaking news and being picked up by rivals. A media planner in a recent Independent piece nails it:

“The most disappointing thing for me is that there doesn’t seem to have been any strategy to create unique, compelling content that would differentiate the online product.”

But these are early days; 79-year-old Rupert Murdoch is playing the long game. Creating a paywall will force the News Corp newspaper brands to think differently, they cannot operate like paper products, or free online products. There must be new gimmicks, they will make the most of online.

Notw, with its recent Ricky Hatton, Rooney & the Hookers, Pakistan Cricket scoops, may have a better chance of getting punters to pay. Like the category-creating Heat magazine, it may convince us to spend a couple of quid each week for tittle-tattle, a guilty pleasure. News Corp will then in a better position to bundle paid-for packages for different segments of the market.

Sky is currently pushing its Arts channel, and heavily promoted its Sky Ride cycling events this summer (with much credit). Sky Arts is not the killer content, football and sport is, but it may be the frosting that convinces reluctant viewers (think Guardian readers) that is now ok to buy a Sky subscription.

The same applies to newspapers. It’s the classic ‘I read Playboy for the Articles’ line. We may claim to read The Times for the news, but flick across to the Notw for the Kelly Brook pics.

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