The "Year of the Paywall" is upon us and in a time where most newspapers seem to be gearing up to build one around their websites - the New York Times and the News Corporation Wapping publications are just a couple of examples - some executives believe there is still room for other revenue models to coexist with paid content.
The head of digital media at News Corporation, Jonathan Miller, told delegates at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit that "dual revenue streams" are likely to co-exist as media organizations try ways of making money online, according to Guardian.
While establishing that the media industry had to return to charging for content - a practice that was overlooked with the advent of the Internet - either through subscriptions or any other method, he told summit attendees that the "choice between paywall or free is not mutually exclusive. They can co-exist based on quality of content and geography."
Miller's remarks seem to suggest universal paywalls are not the only way to finance a newspaper's operations, and that other methods to receive revenue can work alongside paywalls. Miller leaves the door open for some content to still be offered for free, while a paywall is in place for premium content, similar to the Wall Street Journal's strategy.
Interestingly enough, News Corp's CEO, and Miller's boss, Rupert Murdoch is the paywall's firercest advocate. Just last month, Murdoch announced it was very close to implementing online subscription modes for all of its newspapers, like the Times, the News of the World, and the Sun. Not only that, but Murdoch has also lashed out at websites which offer media content for free, like Google News, and has even threatened to remove all News Corp content from the portal.
Murdoch has also publicly criticized Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, for claiming universal paywalls are not the best way to monetize online content and labeling his opinion as "BS."
Guardian also reports that delegates at the Summit was told about an RTL experiment conducted in the Netherlands that found 92% of people preferred to watch six minutes of pre-roll advertising rather than paying €1.20 to watch a video. This suggests people are much more likely to put up with large periods of advertising than paying up, even small amounts, for content. Advertising -- and users' willingness to withstand it in exchange for free content -- could still play a major role in financing newspapers.