What Tony Haile gets wrong about zero-sum publishing

Scroll CEO Tony Haile states that publishers are operating in a “one slot world,” where consumers are unlikely to hold more than one news subscription.

Tony’s solution is for publishers to band together in order to be able to compete, but this is a classic example of zero-sum publishing, which I have written about before.

Key Points

With the zero-sum publishing model, if a reader is only going to pay for a subscription to their favorite news publication, then precisely zero revenue will be available for anyone else.

Tony argues that smaller publishers should band together and put their content behind one shared paywall (presumably Scroll’s) in order to be able to compete with a mainstream publication.

Can someone explain to me how this is anything other than completely embracing zero-sum publishing? His goal is for them to take the one subscription away from another publication.

Rather than getting locked into a battle for sole ownership of readers, publishers should instead provide different ways for people to contribute to multiple publications each month.

The key is to give people the freedom to subscribe to one publication but make payments to many – consuming content the way they want to, rather than being forced to choose just one publication.

Check out my full article here.


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