OLD Media Moves

Why WSJ.com should become a free site

September 20, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Felix Salmon writes on the Conde Nast Portfolio web site why The Wall Street Journal‘s web site should become free to all readers.

WSJ.comSalmon wrote, “For one thing, the only value in keeping WSJ.com a paid site is the immediate subscription revenue that it generates. If you’re owned by a Bancroft family which wants to maximize its dividends, then I can see why you might want to do that. But if you’re a tiny part of the giant News Corp, your online subscription revenue is barely a rounding error when it comes to overall profits. Rupert doesn’t want WSJ.com to contribute to News Corp’s profits, he wants it to contribute to News Corp’s share price. And the way to do that is to make it as popular and successful an internet property as he possibly can.

“Besides, I reckon that ad revenues can make up for lost subcription revenues. According to Dow Jones, WSJ.com gets 8.3 million unique visitors a month, and would need to raise that number to something over 20 million uniques in order to keep total revenues constant. Never mind the accuracy of the numbers, the key thing here is the percentage increase: readership would have to go up by about 140%. Slate’s readership went up by many multiples of that after it went free, and I reckon the WSJ’s would as well. People looking for financial news right now don’t visit WSJ.com because they know it’s a pay site. If they know it’s free, it could easily become the first best source for all financial news and analysis online.”

Read more here.

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