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.