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August 09, 2009

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Good blogpost. I agree with you, and think Chris Anderson is on to something. There is only one thing that puzzles me, and that is his two last advices:

"Don’t charge for the most popular content on your site" and "content behind a pay wall should appeal to niches, the narrower the niche the better".

If you look to the Norwegian online market. What do you see here? At the moment I work in Stavanger Aftenblad. A fairly big newspaper in Norwegian terms. I'm curious to how this apply to regional newspapers like Stavanger Aftenblad, and even national newspapers like VG Nett, Dagbladet, Nettavisen and the semi-natinal newspaper Aftenposten. I don't see what niche content they deliver that is so unique. For news sites like E24, DN and ITavisen I think it's easier to "see" what is niche and what is not.

My question is: Do you think news sites written in Norwegian are able to sell niche content to groups large enough so that paid exclusive content is more profitable than the current model "more traffic, more ad income"? And, if the unique content is behind a wall and I don't care for it, doesn't that make the news site equal or worse than it's competitors - yielding less traffic also with the mix-model?

You're right. Norwegian news sites have two challenges: most don't have content that's specialist enough for me to be willing to pay for it and the language means most niches will be fairly small. That said, I'm vary of using myself and my preferences as an example as I'm very niche focused + get most of my news via RSS and Twitter.

I imagine Norwegian news sites could possible develop good niche portals for say sports, politics, business, culture (add regional in front of all those words for a regional paper), but I'm not so sure they currently have the resources to develop niche sections on these subjects that are good enough for enough people to be willing to pay for it. However, I'd also be willing to pay for community based on something I identified strongly with or was very interested in, the Jewish Chronicle (JC) is a good example. I'm not Jewish, but I think the social network they host on their news site http://www.thejc.com/community makes total sense, maybe that, mixed with content, is another angle for creating paid for sections even on a regional news site (say for local hiking, skiing, a football team, local business, schools or other things people feel strongly about). Of course, with most of the newspaper's content only available in Pdf behind a pay wall, DN would probably argue that they are selling a successful niche product even online;-)

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