January 24, 2008|
After the New York Times abandoned Times select last Fall, making all of the content on its site free, the assumption was that it was just a matter of time before the Wall Street Journal followed suit and went to a free model. Today, the Wall Street Journal rebelled against all those assumptions and confirmed that most of its content will continue to be behind a pay wall. Chairman Rupert Murdoch is quoted as saying:
We are going to greatly expand and improve the free part of the Wall Street Journal online, but there will still be a strong offering for subscribers. The really special things will still be a subscription service, and, sorry to tell you, probably more expensive.
I’m of the opinion that most publications should embrace the free content model online. But I also think the Wall Street Journal probably made the correct business decision here.
While technically a newspaper, the Wall Street Journal’s focus on finance makes it a must read for anyone interested in the topic. It is largely a niche paper providing coverage people perceive that they can’t get elsewhere. In addition, the niche they cover – finance – is one that people have repeatedly proven they will pay for. Bloomberg has made obscene amounts of money covering this sector. I have no idea what the break down is, but I imagine a significant number of WSJ subscribers are companies ordering multiple copies as a business expense. It is one of the two or three newspapers that I’ve gotten at every office I’ve worked at and can buy at any airport.
So it makes sense to me that the WSJ can charge for access to its content. But I think it is very much the exception and not the rule.