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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Paywalls, prices and best-by dates

21 February 2019

NZME, the publishers of the NZ Herald, have announced that they'll be erecting a paywall around their premium online content some time around the middle of the year.

Do I think they'll make money from this?

No I don't.

Although NZME's digital properties have done better than some of their other media ventures in the past year, there can be little doubt that the average Kiwi has no desire to start paying a regular stipend to read the dross that our mainstream media dishes up as "premium" content.

Sadly, the word "premium" in this context no longer carries an expectation of superior journalism or in-depth investigation. Premium now just means a longer story (more words) that sits on the site for weeks or months, hoping to attract readers.

Apparently Fairfax has not given any indication that it will follow suit and also try out a paywall so the NZ Herald's loss will be Stuff's gain if that promised firewall actually eventuates.

And, over at our other least-loved media company SkyTV, they've announced that they are finally moving into the 21st century by ditching the surcharge for HD content.

Gosh, talk about moving with the times... not!

Sky says that pretty shortly it won't be forcing subscribers to pay an extra monthly fee in order to receive HD content... but it will be hiking prices yet again.


This is a company that is taking a real beating in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Netflix -- and they respond by raising prices?

Just about the only ace that Sky has left is its sports coverage, and even that is now being eroded by Spark's move into the sports media field. I do not see much of a future for a company that simply doesn't seem to understand how to respond to massive changes in the marketplace within which it competes.

The really strange thing about SkyTV is that it has been sent a very clear message by its subscribers as to exactly what is wrong with the service but it still refuses to tailor its product to the demands of the market. My prediction is that within the next five years, Sky will totally lose its dominance and become a niche-player, focused on just a few sporting codes. If it can't squeeze a profit out of those then I expect it will fold completely and there'll be a swag of satellite bandwidth going really cheap.

Now from the rumour mill (I can't disclose my sources), I've heard that finally (FINALLY) there may be some serious competition to TradeMe being contemplated. The strategy being considered is (IMHO) an excellent one and has the potential to deliver a pretty powerful blow to TM's dominance in New Zealand.

No, it won't be free, no it won't be "just another TM clone" and yes, it has a couple of very definite points of distinction with powerful extra value components. In short, I think this one will work!

So TM has probably reached its best-by date and we may see something new, fresh, exciting and quite different popping up to scoop up much of the customer base for online auction and trading activity here in GodZone.

I'm sworn to secrecy -- but giddy with excitement ;-)

Stay tuned!

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