Why a ‘Netflix for News’ is not going to save journalism (which still needs a market solution)

Why don’t we have a flat-rate model for publishing? This proposal by Gruner + Jahr Digital CEO Arne Wolter made publishers in Germany sit up and take notice recently. Behind closed doors, publishers are continuing to heatedly discuss the idea, but I would fundamentally question this approach – a Netflix or Spotify model for news does not do anyone any justice. A market solution must be able to do more, and I had the opportunity to outline what such a solution should look like in another byline published recently.

Key Points

  • How could any publisher with a complete focus on advertising revenues and reach optimization suddenly acquire expertise in setting up and operating paid content models similar to Netflix?
  • A flat rate alone is unlikely to save the media industry and could do more harm than good – even the most loyal subscribers would question whether they should not rather choose the more favorable flat rate package.
  • Aggregators decouple the content from the actual medium by presenting a uniform layout. The look and feel of the publication – its branding – simply disappears, and the only brand that wins in a Netflix for News scenario is that of the aggregator.
  • In addition, most media houses have justifiable concerns about using a cross-market solution from a competitor.
  • Publishers should consider the following regarding a market solution:
    • What is the starting position for a cross-market solution?
    • Does participation in a market-wide solution strengthen a competitor or a service provider?
    • Does participation in a cross-market solution keep your own publishing brand visible?
    • Does the solution already exist and, if not, how great is the effort for development, testing and roll-out?
    • What does the cross-market solution cost the individual publisher? 
    • Is the offer actually what the user wants? 
    • Does the solution meet current data privacy issues, without restricting publishers’ advertising business?
  • A successful market solution must be independent, flexible in the possibilities of revenue generation, integrate itself into existing system landscapes without generating horrendous costs, and above all it must be a tool for publishers to deliver on their brand promise and revenue generation goals in a user-friendly way. 

Check out my full article here.

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