Tag Archives: Oxford

Paywall business model for news doesn’t match readers’ expectations in the long run

2019-05-21

A report titled Pay Models for Online News in the US and Europe: 2019 Update published in April 2019 by the Reuters Institute indicates that the number of newspapers that charge for access to their online news is slowly increasing. The study, conducted in association with the Oxford University, features six European markets (Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, UK) and the US. Even though not really a global study, it covers a variety of markets that have different languages and cultures.

The key points of the report are:

69% of major newspapers in seven studied media markets have a paywall. It is a small increase from 2017. In the US, however, newspaper paywalls increased from 60% to 76%.
Absolute paywalls that require payment before any news can be accessed are very rare (3%) amongst the 212 news organisations studied.
Monthly subscription prices average €14.09 – only a small difference to prices of 2017. The range is from €2 to €41.50 a month.
All television and radio broadcasters included in the study provide free access to their digital news sites.
Practically all (94%) news outlets that were established as digital only offer free access to their content.

Reuters Institute, Oxford Unversity: newspaper paywall study
WAN IFRA (World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) regards the rise of paywalls as a sustainable model, but I disagree. Access to information on the internet has already changed the media landscape completely. The same old subscribe-to-our-fine-newspaper –model won’t work in the long run.

Isn’t it obvious there is a flaw in the newspapers’ paywall business model?

There was a time when I deliberately inked my fingers at the breakfast table. The morning newspaper was a huge, thick stack of paper sheets with pages covered in fresh black ink. We had to pay a considerable amount of money for a media company to deliver those stacks of paper to our homes. It was fine. Later during the day, we possibly heard fresh news on a radio or television.

When the world moved to digital media, and news on the internet were updated and available 24 hours a day, the newspaper business model has largely stayed the same. Each of the leading brands are asking readers to pay for access to their online news.

Sure, there are a few media outlets in the world that can get readers to pay for online news, like The Economist, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and each market’s biggest newspaper.
Financial Times, subscription options
If, for instance, an active news follower wants to read The Economist, The New York Times, and the leading newspaper of her home market, she has to subscribe to three services behind paywalls. If we apply the average monthly price of 14.09 euros, the total cost is 42.27 euros per month. This is for news alone.

Movie subscription service Netflix lets you watch films published by hundreds of studios and production companies by paying about 8 euros a month. The subscriber is not tied to one content production company but Netflix streams content from multiple sources. The business model allows sharing the revenue between production companies whose content has been watched.

Ebook subscription service Scribd charges USD 8.99 per month for access to a library of more than million books, audiobooks, and to a selection of magazines and newspapers. There are some restrictions on the number of books and articles that you can read, but a normal person who reads a lot is unlikely to meet those limits. The business model that Scribd and other similar book subscription services use is based on revenue share. Publishers are paid according to a number of times their content has been read.
Scribd monthly subscription to ebooks, magazines, audiobooks
Online music service Spotify lets you listen to the music published everywhere in the world for 9.99 euros per month. Millions and millions of songs and classical tunes to listen to on a phone, tablet, or PC. A fraction of the revenue goes to the artist and composer, and also studios get their share of the revenue.

If you subscribe to all three: Netflix, Scribd and Spotify, it still costs less than three high-quality newspaper subscriptions.

Playster is a subscription service that has bundled books, movies and music into a package that costs 39.95 euros per month. I haven’t tried Playster yet, so it is difficult to assess if it has the same amount of quality content as individual subscription services have.

Apple is developing its service businesses, and has introduced new products, among them a service called News+. It is a subscription to newspapers and magazines for USD 9.99 a month. Apple says hundreds of news sources are available in the service, but the small number of major newspapers has raised many eyebrows.

So, if you are subscribing to a couple of newspaper services, and a few other digital media services, having to login to multiple online services has its inconveniences. User names, passwords, credit cards, security and privacy can be different at each service. Monitoring payments to all services you are subscribing to can become a headache.

The flaws in newspapers’ paywall business model are obvious: price, inconvenience for having to login to each service separately, managing and tracking payments to each service separately, and the fear of missing out (of news published on other sites).

I bet that in the long term services like Apple News Plus and Scribd are something readers are more willing to pay for than individual newspaper subscriptions.
Apple News+ subscription service

The Word of the Year doesn’t mean everlasting popularity for the expression

2018-01-08

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017 is youthquake. The dictionary defines the word as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’. We’ll have to wait for a year or so in order to find out if this particular word of the year sticks around any longer because most of the previously chosen word of the year–expressions have quickly disappeared into thin air.

books on a library shelf, boy reading
The Word of the Year is a word or expression that Oxford Dictionary lexicographers identify as something that has attracted plenty of interest during a year. Candidate words are discussed, and the expression that is eventually chosen is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the year, and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.

How often do the experts choose a word that stands the test of time? As a writer, I don’t want to use an expression that is hyped for a few months only, and quickly forgotten when the next popular word takes over. Here is the Word of the Year list from the last 10 years:

2016: Post-truth
2015: [Emoji showing a face with tears of joy]
2014: Vape
2013: Selfie
2012: Omnishambles (UK), GIF (US)
2011: Squeezed middle
2010: Big society (UK), refudiate (US)
2009: Simples (UK), unfriend (US)
2008: Credit crunch (UK), hypermiling (US)
2007: Carbon footprint (UK), Locavore (US)

Only selfie and the particular emoji image are still frequently appearing in many types of writings. The hit rate of the Oxford Dictionary experts could be better, but seeing the future – even when only one word is considered – is not easy.

Perhaps the Word of the Year-committee has better words on its final list, but fails to identify the right one? The shortlist for the Word of the Year 2017 was:

Antifa
Broflake
Gorpcore
Kompromat
Milkshake Duck
Newsjacking
Unicorn
White fragility

Here are the countries where you have plenty of colleagues who also provide professional services online

2017-07-27

If you are a writer or a freelancer providing writing-related services, like translation, editing, or proofreading, and you manage your assignments through online services, you know how global the business is. Many other professionals, such as programmers, graphic designers, and photographers also sell their services on global online freelance platforms. If you have ever wondered where these different types of professionals are located, now there is a map for that.

Vili Lehdonvirta at the Oxford Internet Institute has collected data from various online freelancing services, and put together graphs that show where professionals are participating in remote work processes and projects, and in which countries specific type of work is performed.
Online Labour Index, Oxford University, Vili Lehdonvirta
The statistics, titled Online Labour Index, shows which skills regions and countries are providing to the global market. For instance, the most common type of remote work in the United States is writing and translation. Indian subcontinent is a major supplier of software development and technology skills. Europe is divided in north, south and central regions that provide different types of services.

The largest supplier of online labour is the traditional outsourcing destination India, which is home to 24 percent of all the workers observed. India is followed by Bangladesh (16 %) and United States (12 %).

The software development and technology work category is dominated by workers in the Indian subcontinent, who command a 55 percent market share. The professional services category, which consists of services such as accounting, legal services, and business consulting, is led by professionals based in the UK with a 22 percent market share.
Online Labour Index, Oxford University, Vili Lehdonvirta
The data for the statistics was collected from four large online professional service trading platforms, also known as online freelancing or online outsourcing platforms: Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, and PeoplePerHour. They are English-language platforms, meaning that non-English-speaking countries are likely to be underrepresented in the figures. Many freelance service platforms exist in other languages, but English-language platforms are the primary ones in international trade. Internet traffic statistics indicate that the four mentioned sites represent at least 40 percent of the global market for platform-based online work. The figures are likely to give a good indication of the overall market, and particularly which skills regions and countries provide to the global market.

Find out more graphs and data from Vili Lehdonvirta’s article at the Unversity of Oxford web site.