Ask many consumers why they've stopped purchasing dead tree publications like newspapers, and chances are you'll hear comments like "the cost is too high."

Ask those same consumers what they expect when it comes to the digital/tablet versions of their newspapers of choice, and you'll probably learn that they expect the cost to be lower. And for good reason: there's no paper and ink to buy; the marginal cost of selling an issue of a newspaper on an iPad is pretty close to $0.

But don't tell that to Rupert Murdoch. As Robert Andrews at paidContent:UK observes, the new iPad edition of News Of The World actually costs more on the iPad than it does in print:

The price - free for the opening weekend, then £1.19 ($1.85) in-app thereafter for future editions. That’s £0.19 ($0.29) MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE PRINT EDITION.

Andrews notes that the iPad News of the World is built on an "awkward software engine" that may not provide the greatest interface, and which may offer a reading experience less enjoyable than simply opening up the News of the World website on the iPad.

So what gives? Chalk it up to the increasingly obvious lack of thought publishers are giving to the tablet economy. While Murdoch talks a good game about digital and consumer expectations, his ability to execute, thus far, seems less-than-impressive.

Here again, the iPad is being treated as a silo. As Andrews points out, there's no indication that subscribers to the News of the World website receive iPad access. So if you want to go behind the News of the World paywall, you have to shell out £1 for 24 hours worth of access, or £1.99 for a month's worth of access, and if you want to access News of the World on the iPad too, you have to shell out an additional £1.19 per edition.

Needless to say, this model is disjointed and confusing. Newspapers should be making it easy for readers to consume their content across multiple mediums without having to manage multiple subscriptions that treat each medium as a separate entity with separate seemingly arbitrary pricing. After all, the stronger the bond you can build with your readers, the more likely it is that they'll continue to consume your content.

Rupert Murdoch may be right about paid content, and it's still early in the game, but until newspapers truly start taking a 'one publication, multiple mediums' approach, you can be sure that money is being left on the table.

Patricio Robles

Published 22 December, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)

Ed Stivala

Ed Stivala, Managing Director at n3w media

I would suggest that a value based pricing model is perfectly reasonable. Simply because the marginal cost is close $0 does not mean that the unitary value to the consumer is close to $0. It therefore follows that pricing each unit at a level the target consumer will pay is a sensible strategy (if you intend to make a profit!). 

I do agree with you though that separate subscriptions for each digital stream is probably not ideal. Perhaps a "Content Passport" approach would be better where by you have one account within which you can decide which particular "digital products" you would like to purchase. Therefore ensuring that a user that doesn't have an iPad and only wants to access the publication through a browser pays less than someone who wants iPad App access AND browser access. As more "digital products" become available then this approach becomes even more beneficial, allowing different users to only purchase the products that they want and best meet their needs.  

over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy


A successful pricing model is always in line with perceived value. After all, if you ask for more than your product or service is worth to consumers, chances are you won't be doing a whole lot of selling.

I don't think the medium is the message here. Many publishers seem to be assuming that the value is in the medium (eg. we can charge more for the iPad edition of our newspaper because it offers more "value"). But I doubt that's the case, and would argue that, in most cases, if publishers think value is driven by the medium or platform, they're admitting that they don't think their content is the primary driver of value. That, in my opinion, is for obvious reasons a bad thing for anyone in the content business.

over 7 years ago


Replica Cartier

 I have no doubt it will play a role in the coming years, as Apps replace SMS as the preferred mode of two way consumer interaction. I know it shouldn't but the realist in me just screams that it will.

over 7 years ago


ed hardy

I am not attracted by the title of such landlord, nor is confused by the content of the post. I do not rob the sofa, nor is it to soy sauce. I am not cheering for the landlord cry, nor is landlord to contain attacks. I just struggle to silence every 30 posts.

over 7 years ago

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