Media Moguls: We Should Get Paid for Our Content

At NCTA: Murdoch, Bewkes, Dauman All Look to Preserve Subscription Model Online

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Whether it was "TV Everywhere" or The Wall Street Journal, online subscription models were praised by some of the cable industry's biggest content chiefs at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's Cable Show in Washington.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch Credit: Don Herrick
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a keynote interview with Fox Business News reporter Neil Cavuto that preserving the Journal's subscription model online has been one of the biggest no-brainers since he acquired the financial newspaper in 2007.

"The question is, Should we allow Google to steal our copyrights? The paper has no trouble in charging $60 to $100 a year solely for the website. We've got about 1 million people doing that, and it's not a gold mine, but it's not bad," he said.

But in order to maintain loyalty among readers who get their news online, on their BlackBerries and, increasingly, their Kindles, News Corp., which is also the parent of Fox News, is developing its own e-reader for newspapers, one with a larger screen to better emulate the print experience. "You can update it, leave it by your bed at night and there's your newspaper," Mr. Murdoch said.

However, "with a lot of young people and teenagers, they don't care about that," he said. "They want to get Fox Sports, ESPN Sports before they go to school. That's a problem to get kids to read newspapers the way they used to."

For TV, online authentication is already being modeled for Time Warner's HBO, which has been testing HBO Go, an online on-demand version of the premium cable network, with Time Warner Cable customers in Wisconsin for the past year. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes shared a quick demo of the product, which offers DVR-like features such as a "Watch List," which allows viewers to program the original shows and movies they want to view online, as well as bonus content similar to DVD extras.

Mr. Bewkes said the company is figuring out how to make a broadband model work for everyone -- and faster than the cable operators and satellites might be ready for. "We're all being too slow to take all these networks and put them on broadband, mobile devices and on-demand. We need to do it right away and put them on video on demand not later but now," he said.

The advertising model for his TV Everywhere initiative would also need to be cable-compliant. "If you look at what's going on in broadband advertising for TV, it's not really very good. The trade is being made mostly by broadcast networks. We ought to be taking the advertising model from cable networks and moving it over to broadband and having it be a reasonable value. We're taking advantage of that medium and what it can do with targeting."

In the same panel, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said a TV Everywhere model could thrive for media companies with a video-on-demand model of making content available within specific windows that don't detract too much from live ratings. "People are used to the trade-off 'I get to watch things for free or a low price,' and that model will evolve," he said. "If we do that, the revenues will grow."

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