Digital media subscriptions – the future of Australian news?
With online subscription models for digital media content recently launched by Apple and Google, one question still remains: Will people be willing to pay for quality online content that they were formerly able to access for free?
One publication, the Australian Financial Review, has been operating behind a paywall for years, but it's a rare exception. Most of the major national and regional newspapers have been offering high-quality content on their websites with no charge and it remains to be seen whether customers will be willing to transition to a paid subscription model.
Robert Gibson, senior consultant at Simon-Kucher and Partners, commented that the change could actually benefit consumers. While less content would be available for free, he explained, the move would likely see online content publishers step up their offerings and offer a richer experience to readers.
"Apple is well positioned with its large user base in Australia to help overcome the barriers to start paying," he said, although it is not the only well-known brand competing for a share of the online publishing market.
He added: "On the other hand, the Google One Pass service offers greater flexibility to online publishers to develop appropriate business models for digital content."
Trusted brands are likely to have more success with paid subscription, but it remains to be seen whether online content will follow in the footsteps of music downloads, which moved from illegal file-sharing into a multi-million dollar business.