OLD Media Moves

Why the WSJ.com should remain a pay site

November 16, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Rich Smith of The Motley Fool gives some reasons why The Wall Street Journal‘s web site should continue to charge readers for access.

The Motley FoolSmith wrote, “I won’t go into great detail here repeating my arguments against the wisdom of Murdoch’s decision to join the online journalism free-for-all. Basically, they boil down to:

  • Brand: People believe that ‘you get what you pay for.’ By removing the price tag that tells people what WSJ.com’s value is, Murdoch will devalue the brand.
  • Synergy: Charging for both WSJ.com and The Wall Street Journal proper allowed News Corp. to offer two-for-one pricing deals, using one medium to help sell the other. Making WSJ.com free continues the two-for-one tradition — except that now, it’s going to be ‘two-for-free,’ as the Journal‘s paying subscribers migrate to the free website.
  • Timing: Google, ValueClick, and Time Warner‘s AOL had it pretty good for a while, capitalizing on a bull market for online advertising. But as fellow Fool Rick Munarriz recently pointed out, the ‘surge in ad revenue’ that AOL has been chasing is proving elusive of late. This market may have peaked already.

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