newspapersIt’s not a secret that the newspaper industry is struggling.  In the 21st century, we can access breaking news anytime online, and often that news comes from non-traditional sources such as blogs (remember the breaking story of Michael Jackson’s death on the TMZ blog?) and Twitter (remember the real-time inside stories after the 2009 Iranian elections?).

News companies need to make a profit to stay in business, and the online world, which offers free access to more information than any person could ever consume, is a major threat to traditional media — so much so that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is considering an exclusive deal with Microsoft that would block all News Corp online content from Google searches and make that content available only through Bing searches.

The jury is out as to whether or not that strategy will work.  In the meantime, news organizations are trying to think out of the box and find creative ways to generate a profit from their online efforts.  It’s an uphill battle that doesn’t appear to have a chance of getting any easier in the near future, particularly given new survey results from Boston Consulting Group.

According to The New York Times, in a survey of 5,000 people from nine countries (the United States, Britain, Australia, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Norway and Finland), it was determined that “charging for online access to news would not greatly increase a newspaper’s revenue, but since the cost of reaching Internet readers was very low, it could significantly increase profit.”

The survey results tell us a few very important things:

  • American and British survey respondents are least likely to be willing to pay to access news online (48%)
  • Americans and Australians are willing to pay the least to access online news ($3 per month)
  • In every country surveyed, people who already pay to access news through newspapers are the most willing to pay to access news online.

Interestingly, The New York Times article quotes John Rose of Boston Consulting Group who said, “consumer willingness and intent to pay is related to the availability of a rich amount of free content.  There is more, better, richer free content in the United States than anywhere else.”

I might add, there is more Authoritative Content available online in the 21st century than ever before, too!

Image: Flickr