Free Free Free!
So what’s the impact of WSJ online going free? 1 mil. US-centric paid users vs a free global audience of 15 mil. Which one would you choose?
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch says that making the site free could secure a global audience of 10-15 million. As of the end of September, WSJ online had 989,000 subscribers, through which it generates about US$40-50 million in subscription revenues, RADAR estimates. This revenue stream is clearly at risk when WSJ online goes free but the negative economic impact could very much be a short-term event.
If WSJ online can get the audiences and eyeballs that Yahoo! Finance and Google Finance have today, its current pay proposition will be quickly forgotten. In September 2007, Yahoo! Finance had over 3 million unique visitors (UVs) in the US and more than 36 million UVs worldwide. In contrast, WSJ online had over 2 mil. UVs in the US but less than 14 million UVs worldwide.
Who’s the more valuable audience for advertisers? It’s an unfair comparison given that WSJ online is not ad-supported. Yet, Yahoo! Finance’s indicators are impressive as it generates between US$200 – 250 mil. in annual advertising, about 4 times what WSJ online currently delivers in the subscription model.
WSJ and WSJ online need a wider audience. And, with News Corp. focusing on giving WSJ in the US a more “consumer friendly” makeover with wider news coverage, it looks like that WSJ and WSJ online will have more eyeballs to compete with the New York Times and others. Add to that some major improvements to European and Asian editions of WSJ plus local JVs in India and Greater China, and Dow Jones finally gets a true critical mass of eyeballs to its content globally. And, don’t forget Fox Business News (FBN), which, powered by Dow Jones content, is in 35 mil. American homes today and will be in Europe and Asia after 2-3 years…
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