This debate shows a lack of understanding of content publishing on the web.
The reason that the national newspapers are failing in the subscription market is
In the early days of the web,
So does huge national newspaper sites being forced to go free mean
So if the large national newspapers with their huge audiences are not generating subscriptions, who is?
The answer is highly focused niche websites. As Gary Hoover said at the recent SIPA (Specialist Information Publishers Association) Conference “In the information business all the money is in the niches”.
At the specialist information end of the market,
When knowledge is inextricably linked to one personality or celebrity e.g. Jancis Robinsons’ expertise in wine, www.jancisrobinson.com
When the editor has privileged access to source material e.g. insider industry information like www.beernet.com
The timeliness of information. If one website gets access to information quicker than other sites, people will pay for that time advantage e.g. the fashion trend prediction site www.wgsn.com
A specialist website aggregates information which saves the reader time and
hasslee.g. www.lvtbulletin.com provides analysis of court judgementsthat are relevant to landlords
The website hosts a specialist community. Charging for access acts as a quality filter to ensure all members have a reason and interest in participating e.g. the many
collectorsclubs and niche industry groups such as www.restaurantowner.com
People pay for exclusivity. Many paid-for websites are driven by people wishing to be a member of a small elite group.
Itsmuch the same as private members clubs or exclusive golf clubs in the real world e.g. www.smallworld.com
Training sites that give people access to information that will improve their skills or knowledge e.g. the photography site www.photographytips.com and the
writersbureau’s writing course www.writersbureau.com
What is driving this revolution is the combination of cheap and simple publishing tools, zero cost distribution via the web and the access to a global audience via the search engines. Suddenly individual experts can easily share their knowledge and become global celebrities in their specialist areas of interest.
Chris Anderson has researched this phenomenon in his book “The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand”. He observed that:
“When you can dramatically lower the costs of connecting supply and demand, it changes not just the numbers, but the entire nature of the market. This is not just a quantitative change, but also a qualitative one, too. Bringing niches within reach reveals a latent demand for specialist content. Then, as demand shifts towards niches, the economics of providing them improve further, and,
Historically the distribution of knowledge and expertise has been restricted by the cost of distributing it via magazines,
This can be illustrated by the fact that there are approximately 75,000 print magazines, newsletter. journals and newspapers in the UK and
The future of internet publishing is in the niches. Subscription and advertising revenues will continue to migrate down the long tail to the niche sites. Specialist publishers who are focused on creating the best site in their subject area in the world are set to prosper. The mass market publications will continue to see their audiences and revenues squeezed.