Forrester Research has a new study out that Rupert Murdoch should probably download: Of 4,000 people polled, 80 percent will not pay for online newspapers or magazines, and the rest are divided on how they want to pay.
That's bad news not only for News Corp. chairman Murdoch but also for all the other old media barons hoping online paywalls will save their bacon. Even those who will pay can't decide if they want to buy individual articles via micropayments, subscribe to print-online bundles or subscribe to just the website:
Then there's the anecdotal evidence collected by Ad Age's Simon Dumenco, who surfed the comments section of Murdoch's websites and found that most of his own readers thought his paywall would fail. Some were downright mean, like Times of London reader Robin Stack: "It will reduce your wealth and influence; please do it."
So, in order to have any hope of weaning consumers off free content, the likes of Murdoch will have to offer a diverse array of payment plans and work like hell to change the thinking of the vast majority of his existing audience. For moguls used to exploiting their readers' and viewers' basest instincts, that sounds like an awful lot of persuading.