Back in September the New York Times went from a subscription model to free for almost all of its content. The thinking being that the ad revenue from the extra pageviews would be greater than the loss in subs.
The Wall Street Journal has now gone the free route too. According to this Associated Press story, Wall Street Journal owner Rupert Murdoch said:
We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having one million (subscribers), having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth
The article went on to state that:
Murdoch said he believes that a free model, with increased readership for wsj.com, will attract “large numbers” of big-spending advertisers.
When the New York Times went free I asked, how long before the Irish Times realises the folly of its paywall? When hell freezes over seemed to be the consensus! Now with the Wall Street Journal also going free, why would anyone pay for online news? And when will the Irish Times realise the folly of its paywall? The longer they have it in place, the less relevant they (and their writers) become.
UPDATE: – The New York Times online readership has soared since they stopped charging for access (no surprise there) according to numbers released today by neilsen.