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Free Web Content a "Myth," Claims Barry Diller 294

BotScout writes "Following in the footsteps of other traditional media executives who just don't get it, Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp, said web users will have to pay for what they watch and use, and that's that. The media and technology executive said it's 'mythology' to view the Internet as a system of free communications. 'It is not free, and is not going to be,' Diller said yesterday at the Fortune Brainstorm conference in Pasadena, California. Companies from Disney to New York Times Co. are seeking ways to extract revenue from the Internet. The latter recently said that it's considering a $5 monthly fee for access to its namesake newspaper's web site."
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Free Web Content a "Myth," Claims Barry Diller

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  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:20AM (#28818025) Journal

    As open source site slashdot it, I'd like to ask the question that why is it such a big deal if some companies like to charge for users to access their content? This is same everywhere else, from movies to games and music. What makes content on internet different?

    You pay for what you get. If you dont like to pay for it, you go elsewhere and dont get their content. Anyone who thinks its important or good enough can pay the low price for it.

    This is why I pay for services like spotify and fileplanet. I think they give me good return on the (low amount) I pay them. Hell, people pay for slashdot to see articles before everyone else because it gives them some return they like. Its exactly the same thing here.

    They aren't trying to get paid for *internet access*. They're trying to get paid from people reading their own made content. There's no problem in that.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Antidamage ( 1506489 ) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:27AM (#28818051) Homepage

      How often is content actually original and why shouldn't users go to where they're getting the best deal? Most of the news you find on the web are AP articles regurgitated to fill the day's edition or post quota. You can take this a step further and read an aggregator like Slashdot, where they (sometimes) extract the useful parts of the article into a summary.

      Everything about the internet seems to fall back to one rule: the more effort you put into content production, the more popular it will be. There was a time when website owners thought putting up an empty forum would draw users, advertising money and content. Instead the users posed where content was being created on blogs, youtube and other mediums.

      The final deathblow to out of touch assholes like Diller is the sheer lack of understanding of their target market. The internet crowd are a fickle bunch and their likes and dislikes wax and wane quickly. Shallow, crass, money-soaked attempts to steal their attention rarely work. Users can smell the money getting involved and abandon sites as they commercialise only to start their own successful reproductions of what made the first site good. The money just can't win this one.

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:47AM (#28818171)

        Actually he's right in one respect... The internet ISN'T free. Someone IS going to pay for it. It just wont be me.

        People will only pay for something they can't otherwise get for free within a reasonable amount of time or with a reasonable amount of effort.

        • by vadim_t ( 324782 )

          It's however, not really expensive.

          Everybody pays for their internet connection. But that's something that doesn't go to content providers.

          Then I can host my blog for free, or if I couldn't, pay $10/month for shared hosting.

          Everybody pays for their net access, so it doesn't really count, and many people can pay their small web hosting fee without asking anything from anybody in return. So there are many people out there that are perfectly content with blogging or whatever without getting paid for it.

          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by siloko ( 1133863 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @01:17PM (#28819803)
            I suppose the real worry is that if the noise from content industry execs gets so loud then legistlators decide to win their war for them, either by making ISP levy a tax on it's users which is distributed amongst various interested parties or by attempting some kind of ban on free content. And this is the crux of the matter, a lot of web content is self-generated, either blogs, tweets, youtube video's, vanity sites, even professional authors/musicians/film makers giving away their art for free. There is no way that the content industry's can stop this on their own and if they do start charging for content then they will just lose large swathes of their audience as people shift to non-industry produced free content.

            They need political backing to win their war hence the all the noise they make and the column inches that noise generates with the help of other vested interest.
        • Actually he's right in one respect... The internet ISN'T free. Someone IS going to pay for it. It just wont be me.

          I pay for access to the Internet itself. How do you manage avoiding that?

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @11:38AM (#28818997)

          The internet ISN'T free. Someone IS going to pay for it. It just wont be me.

          You're paying for it right now. It's called an internet connection.

          But any attempts to charge beyond that seemed to be doomed to failure.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by devman ( 1163205 )
          Except you might be paying for it if they go to a "Bill the ISP" model like ESPN did. So the ISP passes along the cost to you whether you are using it or not. Pretty much exactly the same business model as cable tv. I fear this might be come the norm for Internet content providers in the future of it is successful, and there won't be a way to opt out, it will just become a new 'tax' on your internet access.
        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dontmakemethink ( 1186169 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:32PM (#28820821)

          People will only pay for something they can't otherwise get for free within a reasonable amount of time or with a reasonable amount of effort.

          Agreed. Perfect example - ATM fees. The bad news is that now you can only access your money for free from your bank's ATM's. The good news is there's ATM's everywhere, so you can always access your money, for a relatively staggering fee.

          ATM's have the advantage of direct access to your bank account, and only once you've been inconvenienced by committing to making a withdrawal is the fee brought to your attention. So at the point of no return you're faced with the decision of paying the fee or going back to square one and finding another ATM, which may have an even higher fee.

          However, all ATM's access the same money, and there are no free ATM's to be found outside your bank chain, or at least that's what's expected. In order for any news service to do more good than harm by charging fees, all other news services would have to charge fees as well, plus the content will be subject to much higher scrutiny. Bad stories will directly result in lost revenues.

          But will that result in higher journalistic standards, or will they just print what they think we want to read?

          The more news services start charging, the more viewers free services will get, and the more ad revenue they will get. Charging for news makes free news services more profitable. It could only work if every news service started charging fees at the same time, which would be an anti-trust nightmare.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:52AM (#28818207) Homepage Journal

        Agreed. Greywolf's Corollary to the Streisand Effect: As long as someone else has the same content available for free, users will go there instead of to your site, given the choice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        $5/month is too much to have multiple accounts and one source of content is never enough. Make it $5/year and I won't have to bee so choosy as to which sites I actually care about. Or give me free online access with my paper/magazine subscription. Most content is crap and what do you do about the social/user generated content? Charge me for that too? Are you going to pay me for comments? Refund my overpriced monthly subscription fee?

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dkf ( 304284 ) <> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:24AM (#28818363) Homepage

          Are you going to pay me for comments? Refund my overpriced monthly subscription fee?

          Sure, but there will be an administration fee (say... $10k/y) to cover first. As soon as you have generated enough content in a year to pay the fee, I'm sure Big Media will be very happy to let you have your reduction in subscription costs. After all, we know how excellently they handle the equivalent with musicians...

      • hamster dance.

      • Users can smell the money getting involved and abandon sites as they commercialise

        ...with the notable exception of Facebook... :-(

        • Users can smell the money getting involved and abandon sites as they commercialise

          ...with the notable exception of Facebook... :-(

          I don't know... Isn't Facebook just the current MySpace? Four years ago, MySpace was all the rage and no one even used Facebook. Twitter didn't even exist. How likely is it that the social crowd will still be using Facebook in 2014?

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jgalun ( 8930 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:27AM (#28818387) Homepage

        Are a lot of local newspapers going out of business because the Internet has destroyed the model of simply reprinting the AP feed in order to sell classified ads? Absolutely. You can get the AP feed from tons of web sites, and classified ads have been taken over by Craigslist.

        Maybe AP content will continue to be free on the web, if enough web sites see a traffic boost from it worth the cost of subscribing, then the cost of generating AP content can be kept low by spreading it across many web sites, and end users won't have to bear it.

        But Diller is absolutely right that premium content will be paid for one way or another. There is simply no model right now that supports the free distribution of movies that cost $140 million to make and would additional require huge amounts of bandwidth to distribute. There is no model that will support free access to quality content like the Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic Monthly, New Yorker, or Wall Street Journal.

        Music may be an exception to this. Bands may make enough money from touring to view albums as free advertising. And music production has come down so much in cost that there may be enough people creating music that the supply essentially prevents anyone from charging for it.

        Nevertheless, I think Diller is absolutely right that we are moving away from the free model for many types of content. The free content to generate advertising model has been tried twice now, and it's failed miserably both times.

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @02:34PM (#28820353) Homepage

          "There is simply no model right now that supports the free distribution of movies that cost $140 million to make and would additional require huge amounts of bandwidth to distribute."

          True, but a lot of people are now watching five minute shorts made by their peers for youtube instead. So, times change. And some people are even making much longer things for youtube or other venues.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SheeEttin ( 899897 )

          The free content to generate advertising model has been tried twice now, and it's failed miserably both times.

          Really? Then why do we still have radios? And over-the-air TV?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SerpentMage ( 13390 )

          Sorry, but Diller is a wennie that does not get it.

          Content will be free. Let me talk about my situation. Around 1999 I was a Microsoft Regional Director and I warned MS about open source. They listened to my and promptly ignored me and it was then I resigned my Regional Director post. Then in 2006 I saw how the online and Google killed tech books (I was an author). And now I see how news and such are being decimated by the Internet and their bloggers.

          What people like Diller fail to realize is that bloggers

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NotBornYesterday ( 1093817 ) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:51AM (#28818607) Journal
        He seems to be making the fundamental error of forgetting what internet content supply and demand look like. There is a near infinite (for practical purposes, anyway) number of content providers - original artists and authors, megacorporations, aggregators, bloggers, "pirates", amateur-gone-semi-pro porn stars, etc., because the internet enables us all to be publishers in some way. Also, each content provider has the ability to cross traditional geographical market boundaries easily, and serve a huge number of customers. The result is that although the signal-to-noise ratio may suck sometimes, there is such a broad amount of content and distribution is so trivial, that the supply side of the graph is completely out of whack - it approaches $0 for infinite content. Which oddly enough, is where most of us like it.

        Traditional supply and demand only work in a market where there is a relatively limited number of players who control the product, and supply is limited by traditional manufacturing and distribution.

        I am sure that in his position he sees clearly the cost of producing content that others consume essentially for free, but it does not automatically follow from that that many consumers in the market are willing to pay what he wants. Bitch-slapping your customers with rhetoric like his doesn't help either.
        • by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @01:40PM (#28819993) Homepage

          A lot of this idiocy comes from the use of the metaphor "content". If music and other artistic works were called what they are -- *expressions of human creativity -- a lot of this would go away.

          It's obvious, of course, that people generally don't make objects, products, "contents" (of containers, presumably) and hand them over to others without getting paid for them.

          But the idea that people will not express themselves creatively -- will not write, sing, and talk about the things that are important to them -- without getting paid for it is .. um.. less obvious*

          *i.e. false

      • by sorak ( 246725 )

        You are assuming that free content will always be produced. The problem, especially at the local level, is that banner ads do not bring in much revenue, and ad blockers actually reduce that even further. The internet revenue model continues to be:
        1. Create Content
        2. Give it away for free
        3. ????
        4. Profit
        So, you can call these people assholes, while complaining that they don't do more work and do it all for free, but eventually, someone is going to have to pay for this content. Maybe the current business mo

    • Of course there's nothing wrong with it.

      Besides, have you SEEN what it costs to advertise on /.? It ain't cheap... and without ads this site wouldn't exist. It's not free.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ItsColdOverHere ( 928704 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:32AM (#28818081)

      People paying for content is not the issue here. Execs thinking that a for-pay service in a world of for-free services will be viable is. There will always be a free alternative and that is where people will go.
      People like Mr. Diller believe that if everybody gets together and starts charging for content then consumers will have no choice but to pay up.
      The fact is there will always be a free alternative. I'm not saying there isn't or won't be a market for premium content.
      Just that there will always be free. Free-as-in-beer and hopefully free-as-in-speech.

      • by Bob9113 ( 14996 )

        I totally dig your post, and I'm not trying to be critical -- just want to express one of my fears of the next stage.

        People like Mr. Diller believe that if everybody gets together and starts charging for content then consumers will have no choice but to pay up. The fact is there will always be a free alternative.

        Not necessarily true. Consider this possibility: ISPs gain traction and acceptability with traffic shaping. They then start selling a high speed lane. Big media starts paying for the high speed lane

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Funny)

          by jesset77 ( 759149 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:05PM (#28819211)

          Not necessarily true. Consider this possibility: ... Two types of ISPs remain: those that carry big media and those that carry indy media.

          Gads, you are right! Such an eventuality would be sobering indeed. The Big Media fast lane, with instant access to high definition content, would have to be easy to navigate however. Maybe instead of web addresses, content could be indexed by simple numbers. Then the American Idle (I do like that term ;D) could consume the content by wielding a control device (instead of a keyboard and mouse) that does little more than change feeds to the next "channel" as it were.

          Having such a content juggernaut fed by the gamut of Big Media would certainly make a person think twice before selecting a more complicated, open platform where all you could access are no-account indie content such as My Bank's Website, My Local Realtor's Listings, and Email From My Boss.

      • by sorak ( 246725 )

        Execs thinking that a for-pay service in a world of for-free services will be viable is. There will always be a free alternative and that is where people will go.

        That's an assumption. Right now, aggregators such as google news and slashdot are built on the backs of local newspapers, which are crmubling because they cannot compete with the news aggregators. Do you see the problem here?

        People like Mr. Diller believe that if everybody gets together and starts charging for content then consumers will have no choice but to pay up.

        Well, they could use bittorrent to download their local news, or move to a delivery service that is either built on a proprietary player with ads embedded, or one that is so heavily DRMed that it isn't worth it to crack and remove the ads.
        Of course, there is one other option. Make your

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot&davidgerard,co,uk> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:34AM (#28818093) Homepage
      I can't wait for them to start making massive donations to the Wikimedia Foundation for everything journalists just lift from Wikipedia.
    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Because it could start a bad trend where most sites are pay per play when traditionally you recoup fees via ads instead of direct extortion of your viewers. So its relevant discussion here.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Voivod ( 27332 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (citpyrc)> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:53PM (#28819597)

      Did you read the article? They're not talking about just asking a fee for their content. They're discussing attempting to change the fundamental building blocks of content delivery on the Internet. They have no clue technically how to do it, but they sure as hell know how to get laws passed, companies shut down, and move public opinion. These are companies that are used to getting their own way, and they think transforming the modern Internet architecture into something closer to television & cable is a modest goal.

  • by Antidamage ( 1506489 ) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:20AM (#28818027) Homepage

    This asshole can't see the forest for the trees. For every 'paid' content producer out there, there's a thousand people putting out far more content for nothing. Even more significant: paying for content doesn't seem to improve its quality or availability.

    He knows it, we know it and the average guy knows it too. So why is he spouting this diatribe? Is there some sort of club for jackoffs who like to talk fucking lies, with the score keeper counting how many similar jackoffs rally to the call? He's a shill and nothing more. It should come as no surprise that he helped found Fox, an organisation that specialises in feeding subtle disinformation.

    • by michaelhood ( 667393 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:09AM (#28818305)

      Is there some sort of club for jackoffs who like to talk fucking lies, with the score keeper counting how many similar jackoffs rally to the call?


    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Paying for content doesn't seem to improve its quality or availability."

      Really? Certainly there is a lot of good free content out there, and shit for-pay content. However in general for-pay content has to reach at least a certain minimum standard or the financiers will pull the plug on the production, whereas any twat can film their friend skateboarding into a wall and post it on Youtube. Most of the good free content also tends to be shorter works - there is only a small supply of genuinely good free cont

    • by jgalun ( 8930 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:36AM (#28818469) Homepage

      Do me a favor and call me when someone posts a home-made movie on YouTube that is, I dunno, let's say 10% as well-made, written, and acted as Star Trek.

      People are willfully misrepresenting what Diller is saying. Diller is a media executive. He's not talking about Slashdot or your blog. Believe me, Diller doesn't give a shit if you keep posting reviews of local restaurants or Linux tips on your own web site, just like media executives 20 years ago wouldn't give a shit about a local church newsletter.

      What Diller is talking about are things that are not so easily produced by "a thousand people putting out far more content for nothing." And the truth is, 1,000 people putting out content for nothing are still not going to produce Up!, or put out a daily newspaper with world-wide investigative reporting.

      His point is that there are too many of those "premium content" services chasing too few advertising dollars to be free. Just like cable or print newspapers, we're going to need to move to a mixed advertising and fee-for-service model.

      • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

        Do me a favor and call me when someone posts a home-made movie on YouTube that is, I dunno, let's say 10% as well-made, written, and acted as Star Trek.

        Hmm, let's see, there was that Badger thing that wasn't too bad...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Do me a favor and call me when someone posts a home-made movie on YouTube that is, I dunno, let's say 10% as well-made, written, and acted as Star Trek.

        I think you are missing the point of youtube.
        content doesn't have to be 10% as well made, written, and acted as star trek. youtube videos don't have to draw in millions of viewers to justify a 1 million per episode budget.
        Internet media makes use of the long tail. what you might see as crap, I might find hilarious. what you see as the most interesting thing ever, I may find utterly boring.
        production/distribution is very cheep; if a video can entertain a few hundred people, its a success.

  • Let them do it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordKaT ( 619540 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:29AM (#28818065) Homepage Journal

    I say let the big companies lock out their content. It just helps smaller content producers find their niche and make some money through sponsorships and advertisements.

    • Re:Let them do it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:38AM (#28818115) Homepage Journal

      If the "big ones" do this, the "small ones" wont have to deal with just a niche market, and wont be small for much longer.

    • This is my philosophy for one of my sites. I incur all costs so that my viewers don't have to. Honestly, would you watch public broadcast TV if you had to pay for it? The broadcasters cover their costs in any way they can - advertisements, paid content, government grants, etc...

      Other websites that offer similar services to my site charge for those services, while my site (geared toward building a community) charges nothing - ever, and has seen consistent growth for three years.

      I'm with you - let the big

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jesset77 ( 759149 )

      I think that is pretty much the intent of Diller's rant. He is attempting to chastise all digital consumers in one swoop for failing to pay for his clients' content and preferring free alternatives.

      Strangely enough, nobody will stop his clients from charging their customers. We'll just stop being customers and take our <$0.01 business elsewhere. There is no content in "The New York Times" that I feel worth investing 15% the cost of my entire internet pipe just to see. In contrast I do pay $10/yr for Wire

  • Barry Diller stated today that "the Internet free access model is clearly malfunctioning [], as I don't make enough money from it. We have to educate people that free doesn't work, particularly for us."

    Publishers hold that it is natural for readers to pay what advertisers once did, just as cows have to make up the difference out of their own pockets when the price of milk falls. "Without content companies, there would be nothing on the internet! Just as without pimps, sex would never have been invented."

    Media commentators fear for the future of investigative journalism. "How can we hold governments' feet to the fire without money to pay our great reporters? Where would you get your recycled wire feeds, your Garfield cartoons?" Newspapers have suffered badly since the collapse of their previous business model of selling readers to advertisers on a local monopoly basis. The replacement models appear to involve phlogiston, caloric and luminiferous aether.

    Publishers have also explored the notion of getting Google to pay its "fair share" for so parasitically leading people to newspapers' websites. The Wikimedia Foundation promptly started billing journalists for their reprints from Wikipedia. "We feel this is completely unfair," said Tom Curley of the Associated Press, "as real news stories spring forth from the heads of accredited reporters in an immaculate creation from nothingness. My preciousss." Maurice Jarre was unavailable for comment.

    • by Bob9113 ( 14996 )

      Bravo! Bravo! Author! Author!

      Very well played, Mr. Gerard. Thank you for starting my day with a belly-laugh. :)

  • by Xpendable ( 1605485 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:36AM (#28818101)
    Here's what I have to say to those who want to charge $5 to read their "online" newspaper. Good luck with that. I'll be over here where the news is still "free".
  • Well, perhaps not *your* content, but i guarantee the content down the street will be.

    Guess where ill be taking my business? ( thinking ad revenue here as business )

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:38AM (#28818117) Journal

    Barry misunderstands the BASIC transaction basis of currently-free media (like TV): the ADVERTISERS are his customers, the VIEWERS EYES AND ATTENTION is what he's selling and the 'content' is merely bait to attract and hold the viewers for as long as possible.

    So in a sense, he's stating categorically that fish are going to need to pay to enjoy the worms hanging on those hooks.

    It's quite possibly the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

    And, for what it's worth? "Disney, the world's biggest media company, is developing a subscription-based product for the Internet, Iger said..." Disney: really good content producer, really BAD at predicting how they can exploit the viewers. I recall them saying categorically that Disney movies would NEVER be released in DVD format (for fear of piracy) and then they did release in a dvd format...DIVX. Everyone remember what a huge success that was?

    No, if Disney's working on a 'subscription' internet, I'm going to bet strongly that they'll be wrong.

    • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:15AM (#28818321)
      fish are going to need to pay to enjoy the worms hanging on those hooks.

      That, sir is The American Dream

      - dream on...

      • I think one of our great philosophers, the late George Carlin, said it best: "It is called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it"
    • by jgalun ( 8930 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:46AM (#28818559) Homepage

      It's amazing that the same people who say that the advertisers should pay for the whole system are also the ones trying to cut advertising out of their feed - who use AdBlock, who listen to XM because they can't stand constant advertisements, who use DVRs to skip past ads, and who get movies on NetFlix because watching them on TV have too many ads. And the same people who also think that the prices of media content - like DVDs - are way too high and need to come down.

      Well, guess what. Free content and no ads means no content. Free content and ads means a LOT of advertising. You want the next movie you see to be interrupted by an ad every 2 minutes?

      A lot of people on Slashdot want to eat their cake and have it too. Content should be free and supported by ads - but we should get to block/skip ads!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Well, for quite some time I used AdBlock to only block those ads which actively annoyed me. Text ads like Google's had a 100% change to get my eyeballs, and also still images and even not too aggressive animations had a very good chance to stay. Sometimes I even clicked on some ads. However, over time the work required to manually block selected ads got too high. Now I'm using AdBlock Plus with its pre-made block list. Which means I don't see any ads at all now. Which is bad news for those few advertisers w

      • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @11:51AM (#28819113)

        Free content and ads means a LOT of advertising.

        Why? Start up costs for a TV show are much bigger than most net applications, but TV once managed with advertising only at the beginning and end of shows. You had product placement (The original 'Hotel' show was actually called "Mariott Hotel" for its first couple of seasons), but it was fairly subtle or secondary to the needs of the program. TV ran lots of content that worked like the Hallmark Hall of Fame show, with no commercial breaks.
            News shows had a much freer hand in picking stories and developing them. Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley worked as part of news departments that wouldn't have aired a lot of the puff content (What's Brittney doing since we last saw her 15 minutes ago?), and trashy content (what's Brittney's crotch doing since we last saw it 15 minutes ago?). Yet those companies made a substantial profit.
              Somehow now there's not enough profit in the net, not enough profit in TV, Not enough profit anywhere. Average wages have been stagnant for 20 years, or worse with inflation, but if we just let them crowd 173 hours of commercials into a 24 hour day, that will get better.
              The real problems are physical constraints - that is, there is not enough value in circulation to give these people the share they want, even if we leave nothing for the rest of us. It just can't happen. Daddy can't get them the pony this year.

      • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:37PM (#28819467)

        A lot of people on Slashdot want to eat their cake and have it too.

        No, a lot of people on Slashdot (me for one) would like content distributors to stop diluting their product and making it virtually unwatchable in their endless quest for more advertising dollars. There's a balance that needs to be struck here: people have accepted broadcast TV advertising for decades as the price to be paid for enjoying said television. The old-line networks, for a long time, respected that and didn't make the commercial burden too onerous, but that has been changing. Take the Sci-Fi channel (pardon me ..."SyFy" channel, whatever the fuck that means.) They not only have a ridiculous amount of commercial interruption but also genlock enormous ads right over the actual programming that I'm already paying for with my subscription. No doubt they do that so even if you commercial skip you're still stuck watching some advertising.

        You want advertising dollars? Fine ... but don't devalue the content you're delivering in the process, thereby making commercial-skipping that much more appealing. In fact, make sure you actually have content worth watching. That helps. In any event, I feel no guilt whatsoever in skipping all of the aforementioned "SyFy" channel's advertising that I possibly can, just as a matter of principle. Not that I watch them much anymore: they've successfully screwed themselves out of a once-loyal viewer.

        It's no accident that the minimalist Google is the leader in online advertising. They somehow manage to make money selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of advertising without alienating their users. People will tolerate ads to a certain degree, but after that you'll start losing eyeballs. You can make money selling ads and you can have loyal customers. You just have to accept that there's level beyond which you will thoroughly piss people off.

  • by PenisLands ( 930247 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:39AM (#28818121) Homepage Journal
    I imagine that if these sites start trying to charge their users for access, most people will just lose interest and look for a site that doesn't suck. For example, I like to browse slashdot and youtube, but if they started charging for basic access I'd forget about both in a heartbeat.
  • Ya, i pay access fee each month, to a company that is either part of or in bed with major media giants that are working hard to limit my access in general. And you want to raise my rates even more in effect? Well, f-you sir.

  • "Free" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Cisco Kid ( 31490 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:40AM (#28818129)

    Any person or business can charge for access to their site if they want to. Others may choose to give information away free. Still others might give information away free, but include ads from sponsors on their sites. Some individuals might choose to directly exchange information, either for free or in exchange for value.

    Regardless, no one is forced to use any particular website - if one chooses, and another provides the same information free, you can choose either one. If the one charging has unique information that no one else offers, you can decide whether to pay and get it, or not. If you have information you'd like to charge for, but there are a dozen other sites offering it free, you probably aren't going to do well. It would be wrong for you to try to get laws or regulations to block the ones giving it away for free.

    This essay is a bit dated with some of its references, but the underlying concepts still apply: []

  • The only reason it grew was because it was (is still) free.
  • I registered there years ago, but it's been years since I've logged in. First off, the stories are mostly knock-off crap for the 'unwashed masses', secondly how do you know their columnists aren't just poorly-paid liars like that clown Jason Blair? You can read better elsewhere, and if they do publish something factual you'd want to verify it anyway.
  • Free content means free for the consumer.

    Even the Guild, which is free to the consumer, is supported by a corporate sponsor who wants to draw in those who like it.

    so, Barry Diller is a dipshit. He might as well wipe his ass with his MBA, since he can't figure anything else out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:47AM (#28818169)

    fuck him and his company, (we) have spent thousands of hours removing his companies shit from our network
    they target kids especially [] []

  • by s0litaire ( 1205168 ) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:48AM (#28818177)
    ...Multi-Millionaire CEO's of International corps know EXACTLY what the little guy scraping by on minimum wage actually wants and needs...
  • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @09:50AM (#28818193)

    I used to have a delivery subscription for ~$5/wk but I canceled it a while ago because it was nothing but extra clutter. When I canceled, I told the rep that I still greatly value the paper's content and would not mind continuing to pay some small amount to keep it going but, alas, they were incapable of taking my money without sending paper to my doorstep.

    $5/month seems eminently reasonable, I hope they do something like that.

    • It's what I think too. If the price is reasonable and the content appropriate, then a small fee is ok and people will also pay for it.

      Problem is that these people either try to overprice it from the beginning or screw up with the content or do something else that irritates the heck out of people.

      Would just take a little common sense, maybe a trial subscription and adequate content in the right form (not too restricted) and they could have a business model. They still manage to screw up most of the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by caseih ( 160668 )

      The NY Times essentially tried this. They sold subscriptions for their "premium" content. It didn't work. People either were satisfied with the nonpremium content, or went elsewhere. The problem was that the premium content really wasn't so premium and the other interesting content was available elsewhere. There was no added value. I used to regularly read Friedman's oped column in the NY Times. I thought he was very insightful. But then when they tried the premium content stuff, his articles were p

    • Of course, there is a small problem in no longer subscribing to a paper newspaper: what do you use to absorb the grease when you make greasy food like french fries or bacon? Paper towels seem like such a waste.

      • > Of course, there is a small problem in no longer subscribing to a paper newspaper: what
        > do you use to absorb the grease when you make greasy food like french fries or bacon?

        "Shopper" papers. They're *free*. And they have about as much content as the New York Times.

    • by macshit ( 157376 )

      I probably would too -- but the NYT website is very good, probably the best site out there that's roughly in the mold of a traditional newspaper.

      I think the NYT might be one of the rare sites that could succeed with such relatively high subscription costs (lower than their normal subscription mind you), but very few other websites could get away with it, so it's not a good general solution.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      WSJ has online-only. They seem to be doing okay with it.
  • But if you want to get paid for online content, create content that is worth paying for. And keep in mind that you're competing for an audience that is easily amused by home videos of dad's getting hit in the family jewels by wiffle bat wielding young'uns.
  • I, for one, welcome the end of 'free' internet traffic, as I am sick of those spongers getting something for nothing. I look forward to getting paid for storing cookies, looking at adverts, filling in forms etc.

  • Didn't we already hear this about 15 years ago or so?

    Maybe if they concentrate really hard for another 15 years then wishful thinking might pop open an alternate reality or something.

    Tap your heels together and make yourself less relevant.

  • ... because these companies have our attention for whatever period of time we stare at the content they put onto their website.

    They seem to be under the misapprehension that our attention is free.

  • by rel4x ( 783238 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:17AM (#28818327)

    Places like the New York Times have put no decent effort into getting their internet traffic to back out. Their whining is getting ridiculous.

    The cost per click of advertising on sites like the New York Times is pretty high. But they put their CPC ads below the fold where users won't click on them. They take the easy branding dollars for the top placements on CPM media buys. The problem with this is that most media buys are cheaper than paying per click(since it requires a high initial $$$ commitment), and are capped at 1 view/person/12 hours. So by the 10th pageview for someone, you're really down the crap inventory.

    This is 100% the lazy way out. They should be making a self serve platform (to eliminate the 30%+ cut Google and other PPC companies take), and they should be aggressively looking for advertisers. Start tagging articles, have people bid on the tags themselves(to break down the different topics better).

    Move the ads into more aggressive slots, and start putting non intrusive text ads on their mailing list. Quantcast shows them getting 66.5-79.5 million US pageviews a month, and quantcast is pretty conservative. So let's say they put 3 PPC ads in a decent position, and take the high number(79.5 million).

    It's not unreasonable to guesstimate the adblock as a whole would get around a 2-3% click through ratio with good targetting. Even at 2%,that would be 1.59 million clicks to the ads per month. The prices would vary so much based on keyword that guessing past that is pointless, but suffice it to say most would be paying $0.75 on the cheaper end, and much more expensive for things about insurance, etc. And that's just one adblock. They've got the resources to monetize this, they just aren't. They'd prefer to use safe but low revenue CPM buys, and to let Google take a big chunk of their PPC revenue. Idiots.

  • by anorlunda ( 311253 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:22AM (#28818351) Homepage

    It is hard to imagine how clueless an "executive" in this industry can be. Apparently, Diller is incapable of visualize himself in the shoes of others.

    If most sites charged a subscription fee:

    1) Personally, the only commercial site I visit frequently enough to be worth a fee is the NYT. There is no second place; not even close. If all papers charged a fee, I suspect that 80% of users would subscribe to NYT and nothing else.

    Other than the NYT, I probably visit 1000 other sites per month seeking interesting reading. Diller would have me pay $5000 per month for that privilege.

    2) Free ranging surfing would be discouraged because of all the fee-walls erected. Most users would never discover Diller's site in the first place.

    3) As others have remarked, most users would be driven to the remaining subset of sites that don't charge a fee.

    4) Given that we users like to change our minds frequently about favorite places to visit, if we did pay a $5 fee to subscribe, we would likely change our mind before getting value for the money.

    If there must be a subscription fee, then the ONLY way it could work would be one $5 fee for all information sites to be allocated among providers in proportion to the actual visits they record. It would be almost the same business model as cable TV which shares subscriber fees with the providers.

    Online gaming sites are a different story.

  • There is no free lunch. When the NYT content was "free" online, it was in fact being subsidized by the Times' paying paper subscribers. And the Times' advertisers, which it had to charge more in order to generate the revenue needed to subsidize the online site. Or, if the online site was in fact funded by its own advertisements, then it was paid for by the users of whatever products were being advertised.

    The "ad funded" web is just another opportunity for companies to inflate their ad budgets and pass th

    • Mod parent up! This is the first who realizes someone pays for content, "free" just means it's charge is distributed or displaced.

      My parents would never use a gas station that charged the same price for cash and credit--since then the cash paying customers were being charged a portion of the percentage credit card companies charged for those services.

      People often forget that companies don't have any money and most start in debt. They simply move money from their paying customers to their suppliers, financ

  • Barry Diller is a myth.
  • by jcohen ( 131471 ) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:36AM (#28818473) Homepage

    Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that all the websites out there started charging the eminently "reasonable" $5/month for access to content. In truth, it is likely that sites run by the likes of Barry Diller will charge decidedly more than this.

    Before the economic collapse, I had a monthly books/CDs/entertainment budget of, say, $150. After the collapse, that budget is closer to $40. Assuming that I choose to spend 100% of my discretionary income on nothing but paid websites, and assuming that these will all be the cheapest, $5/month websites, that gets me eight websites, out of all the sites available on the Internet. I might as well shut down my browser and head to my library to peruse some dead trees.

    I can't be the only person like this. Mark my words: the Internet will route around this damage.

  • > "We have ample evidence both in traditional and new media that people are willing to pay
    > for quality, to pay for choice and to pay for convenience," Iger said. "And they are
    > willing to pay for what they perceive as value."

    Yes, but what does Mr. Diller have that anyone is willing to pay for?

  • Shut up beeatch. you'll do exactly how the advertisers tell you to do.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:44AM (#28818545) Homepage

    Some people actually do things because they enjoy it or want others to enjoy it. There are people who do charitable acts without want of tax advantages or recognition. As someone from the BSD camps have pointed out, some people just want to make their affect on the world and would like to see their work out in the world being useful. Free web content isn't so different and all those things released out there in the creative commons and the like are evidence of people simply wishing to express themselves and to share it with others.

    • by jgalun ( 8930 )

      If I said that all content must be charged for regardless of type or quality, I'd be a nut. Yet on Slashdot we regularly have people saying that no content should be charged for, which is just as crazy.

      The Internet has changed the game. There are many types of content which you used to be able to charge for that you no longer can. For example, there is almost no sports coverage you can charge for because there are 10 zillion sports fans will to provide almost as good coverage for free.

      But there is plenty of

  • FTA: "Diller, 67,..." is just another W.O.R.M. grasping at straws before shuffling from this mortal coil.

    Also, Robert Iger's comment of "We have ample evidence both in traditional and new media that people are willing to pay for quality, to pay for choice and to pay for convenience," needs to be translated:

    "We've been tellin' the rubes what to pay for for so long we *know* they won't start thinkin' on their own and see this for the bullsh*t it is."

    We can only hope that this grasping, greedy paradigm dies ou

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @11:41AM (#28819023) Homepage

    ... was that you're not going to see content that is paid for through your ISP subscription. You pay the ISP for bandwidth. You pay a content provider to decide which bits are ones and zeros. He didn't rule out advertising as a means to pay for content. He didn't even rule out good-will as a means to pay (he just didn't figure in things like free open source because it's just not in his sphere of thinking).

    Which of you readers of Slashdot is going to put up a popular web site and run it totally free to access and entirely devoid of content? And I don't mean some puny little personal blog page. I mean a major popular site with a million visits an hour. Unless you are already filthy rich and want to blow it on this, it ain't gonna happen. And if you do fit that category, the site still isn't free because whoever you ripped off to get rich is paying for it.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:12PM (#28819271) Homepage

    Let's look at the record of Barry Diller companies.

    • Home Shopping Network. Infomercial channel. Did OK.
    • Ticketmaster Bought up competitors. Achieved near-monopoly. Raised prices. Did very well.
    • Expedia Travel agency. Leader in field.
    • Lending Tree Mortgage loans. Sold off after losses. []
    • Interval International Time-share condos. Sold off from IAC in 2008. []
    • Search engine. Market share near zero.
    • Niche search engine for black people. Ceased operations a few weeks ago.

    So you can see where Diller is coming from. His ad-based businesses have been disasters, while his transaction-charge businesses have done well. (Lending Tree had some bad years because they speculated in mortgages, instead of just brokering them.)

  • If a group of companies, from the same industry, get together and tactically agree to impose or raise fees, isn't that collusion and/or price fixing?

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @05:36PM (#28821783) Homepage
    Perhaps we would be better off without the giant new industry and instead rely on people spreading free information amongst each other.

    What has the growth of the news industry given us? We now have 24 hour news that knows full well there is not enough news to fill 24 hours so they repeat the same stories making a mountain out of a mole hill just to fill the time and get viewers watching and Fox news-like content that tries to pass highly biased opinion as fact.

    The news industry is screwing up society. We could do with some of these companies going out of business.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN