70% of digital publishers plan to charge for online access


Almost three-quarters of digital publishers (70%) intend to charge for online content, with most preferring a flat-rate subscription model ahead of micro-payments, according to a new survey. The annual survey of members of the Association of Online Publishers, which includes those in the newspaper, magazine and television industries, found that an increasing number were now looking to charge for online content. The survey found that 70% of AOP members will charge for content with just 30% claiming they would never charge for content.


The survey reveals a marked change in strategy from two years ago before the downturn in advertising revenue. In 2007, the AOP found that 54% of respondents said they had “no plans to charge for content”.

One in three (33%) of those respondents to the AOP survey intending to charge for content said they would adopt a micro-payment model in the next 12 months with 45% preferring a subscription model.

More than a quarter of those planning to charge for content said they would seek to create revenue through downloadable apps (26%).

The survey found that 26% would charge for special reports as a way to make money online, while 16% will put their archives behind a paywall. The same number is planning to charge for specific mobile content.

The BBC and Google were identified as threats to the fortune of online media by 50% and 38% of businesses respectively. However, those surveyed saw the economy (70%) as more of a threat.

The survey revealed that publishers were encouraged by the prospects offered by mobile devices – 85% of respondents identified the mobile web as the biggest opportunity for the industry.

Last month, Google said it is working on software that will allow newspapers to charge users for certain online content using a system of micro-payments.

The news follows the announcement from News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch that all of his major newspapers – including the Times and the Sun – would be charging for online content by the end of June 2010.

Last month, US firm Journalism Online has claimed that more than 500 newspapers and magazines have agreed to join its new content payment network. The platform, set to go live in the Autumn in the US, lets publishers sign up as ‘affiliates’ to the network, using a universal Journalism Online account.


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