According to online measurement company, Nielsen, online news sites will find it hard to charge users and attract loyalty.
Following is the report from B&T Today:
Nielsen has said its data and analysis has indicated a lack of loyalty amongst Australian consumers to any one news provider - it cites that nearly three quarters (71%) of visitors to Fairfax Digital Media's news websites in September also visited News Digital Media, and 69 per cent of visitors to Ninemsn's National Nine News website visited news websites of Fairfax Digital Media.
The figures come as News Corporation prepares its strategy to start charging for its online content. And the research comes on the back of a speech by ABC managing director Mark Scott in which he claimed the ABC would never charge for content, and cast doubt on the wisdom of this strategy, saying that the power had shifted into the hands of audiences.
Mark Higginson, director of analytics at Nielsen, said: "Traditionally, newspapers gave rise to strong brand loyalty amongst their readership, and a person who spent their money buying The Sydney Morning Herald was unlikely to also buy The Daily Telegraph and vice versa.
"However, this model has definitely not been replicated in the online space. Consumers of news are not brand loyal, they are interested in the timeliness of a breaking news and multiple opinions and reporting on news events and as a result we see a very high overlap of audience between the news publishers in Australia.
He added: "For a single provider to introduce a paid-for content model, the end result would most likely be that the provider would be taken out of the competitive mix as consumers looked to other sites for their news."
On Rupert Murdoch's strategy of charging aggregators for re-purposed content, Higgins said this approach ignored the growth of citizen journalism, blogs and other consumer generated media which is de-centralising the flow of information away from the traditional media empires.
In B&T's own research conducted last month into the paid-for content debate, just over three-quarters of people polled said they would not pay for online news sites "under any circumstances". Respondents were asked the question "If online news sites started charging money for access to their content would you pay?" with 75.4% selecting the answer "Not under any circumstances".
However, News Corporation executives remain confident that the strategy they will adopt for charging for content, which is yet to be fully revealed, will pay off. News Digital Media is already in "the second phase" of charging for content, according to a report last month.
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