Forget about what you’ve heard — apparently readers are happy to pay for content. Or at least that’s what News Corp (NYSE: NWS). which plans to charge readers globally for access to News Corp websites, says its internal research has shown. According to a memo from Richard Freudenstein, CEO of News Digital Media, the online arm of News Corp.’s Australian subsidiary News Limited, the company is confident about the success of the plan, which is entering a “second phase” in Australia.
In a memo leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald, he says: “News has conducted some audience research here in Australia and in the UK and U.S., which gives us confidence that, if we get the product and delivery system right, people will happily pay for news content online, on their computer, mobile, e-reader or other devices.”
That doesn’t tally with what we found this week in our exclusive research series with Harris Interactive: only five percent of our survey respondents said they would pay if their favorite news site started charging.
According to NDM’s commercial officer Ed Smit, we were asking the wrong kind of question. He tells SMH: “If you ask them yes or no, everyone says no… But if you do more in-depth research about what they consume, where and why and how they would be prepared to pay for it, you see very different results in line with our strategy.”
But we’ve already asked people how much they would like to pay (as little as possible); how they would like to pay (subscriptions are more popular than micropayments) and we’ve yet to see proof of any large-scale public appetite to part with cash for something they are used to getting for nothing. (It’s unclear if News Corp.’s survey respondents were shown mockups of the new paid-for sites, which could have made them more open to the idea of shelling out money for the content.)