A few key points from Price Waterhouse Coopers Newspaper Outlook 2009. The issue here, as in so many industries, is what will consumers pay for? There's no doubt they will - if the content has enough value.
Although there is a huge potential for growth online, print
remains the largest source of revenue generation for
newspaper publishers, and will continue to be so for
Newspapers have a long-term future and will coexist with
other media. However this is unlikely to be either in the
formats or volumes seen today and there will some
casualties and losses of well-known papers along the
Consumers place high value on the deep insight and
analysis provided by journalists over and above general
or breaking news stories.
Consumers see breaking news and general interest news
as commodities, but there is always a market for high
value online content in specific topics. Our consumer
research indicates that consumers are willing to pay for
this content, but newspapers need to develop strategies
for monetising their content and intellectual capital.
As the Nieman Journalism Lab noted:
PwC found that 62 percent of consumers are willing to pay for online news. But the report itself qualifies this finding as well:
This does not mean that they would actually buy online content at this amount however. Free content is abundant online and consumers would choose free content when the quality was comparable or sufficient for their purpose. On average, respondents expressed no willingness to pay for general news and background information on e-paper or mobile devices, and they do not see them as alternatives for full newspapers.