Why Can’t Even Online Outlets Make Money Online?


The common wisdom is that newspapers need to shed their print operations (printing presses, delivery networks, etc.) because they cost too much at a time when people access news for free on newspapers’ websites.

The answer to print media’s problems is not necessarily an online-only business model. By shifting to an online-only model, newspapers give up subscription fees and print advertising revenue.

Also, most online-only media are available without paid subscription or other user-generated fees. The prolific New York Times reporter, Brian Stelter, wrote an interesting article last month, “Payoff Over a Web Sensation Is Elusive.”

In it, Stelter cites estimates that Susan Boyle and Britain’s Got Talent lost about $1.75 million based on 75 million streams of the various clips of Boyle’s performances.

The key question for all media is how to generate revenue streams. After all, free is not a sustainable business model, as New York Times media columnist David Carr, has noted.

Claire Cain Miller at the Times has written several articles recently about web advertising: “A Case for Non-Ad Revenue on the Web,“GigaOM Seeks Non-Ad Revenue” & “Ad Revenue on the Web? No Sure Bet.”

My bet: in the future, we will start having to pay subscriptions and access fees for a lot of the content we get for free.

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