The paid-content riches are in the niches

GVX247Over on the “This is How We Roll” blog, I’ve posted some thoughts about a paid-content site I’ve been working on for weeks with 247Sports.com called GVX247.
 
It launches Thursday and you can get all the details from the post there.
 
There’s been a lot of talk about paid content in 2010 and there will be more in 2011. Big experiments by media giants have launched in the last several months and more big experiments will launch in 2011,
 
Some of those involve paid newspaper.com websites, some involve iPad app strategies,  some involve niche sites, and some involve other models, including metered use.
 
The Analog Dollars to Digital Dimes problem has more than few publishers up at night looking for solutions beyond just advertising-supported media. What consumers will pay for and what they believe they should receive for free is a moving target. Finding the right place on the spectrum will be crucial for the eventual winners … and fatal to the eventual losers.
 
I do not see much of a future in taking shovelware newspaper.com content behind a paywall. For those that want to try it, good luck. The value equation just doesn’t seem to add up to much for the user along with the downside risk for publishers of becoming irrelevant in the community or marketplace (however you want to define those).
 
I do see the potential for deep dive paid-subscription content in niches with sports being one of the obvious top of the list plays. Financial information seems to work pretty for the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg as well.
 
What future do you see for paid content?

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2 Replies to “The paid-content riches are in the niches”

  1. Jack, I agree with you … mostly.
    I recently tried to get to some college football news at my alma mater’s local newspaper and I couldn’t get word one without a paid susbscription. Point is, of course people will pay for that inside view and exceptional content. Newspapers grossly underestimate the value of their content. And I agree that sports is the place to lead.
    Second issue is that newspapers need to quit thinking like newspapers. I was working with an organization (!) with tremendous potential but every commercial decision had to be approved by editorial. Eventually the newspaper’s eulogy will be approved by editorial too.
    If you look at the few examples of print outlets that have successfully made the transition, they have had a scorched earth mentality, a true start-up mentality, and in that case, the content editor simply is not going to call the shots.
    I think corporate culture — not lack of revenue opportunities — will ultimately kill the American newspaper.

  2. Certainly the culture is an issue.
    Clark Gilbert, who worked with Clayton Christensen (author of the Innovators Dilemma) and consulted with media companies at the firm, Innosight, believes newspapers have to separate their traditional and digital businesses and he’s done just that as CEO and president of the Deseret News Publishing Company in Salt Lake City. So at Deseret Digital Media, they are able to pursue that “sorched earth.” approach.
    You might enjoy the YouTube video below with Gilbert and Gordon Borrell on mobile. A bit of a promo for a conference that was held earlier this year, but Gilbert makes some excellent points. I think he particularly hits your point around the 3 minute mark.


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