“Paid services” … “confused” media experiences that seek to improve content

Experts ask for accuracy and avoid administrative crises

It seems that free media services and the circulation of news are gradually waning in favor of “paid services”, after it became a reality for the media industry … albeit with slow and ambiguous steps. The suspension of the “CNN Plus” service, which is concerned with the provision of a live or “streaming” news service, after its launch about a month into its work, has raised several questions, most of which are about the future of “paid media services”, and the most prominent question has become among the newsmakers: Is the audience ready to receive the paid live broadcast service? This is amid demands from some experts and specialists for more “accuracy and to avoid administrative crises with any new experiences.”

In a press release published in late April, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), which had previously entered into a merger partnership with CNN and telecommunications giant AT&T, announced that the US-based news channel’s paid live streaming service had only been discontinued. month after its launch, in an effort to bring in revenue from news feed subscriptions. The statement added that the company had spent up to $ 300 million on developing the service, but it started slowly and attracted only 10,000 viewers a day.

Chris Licht, the new CEO of CNN, told the BBC the company intends to be stronger after working with Warner Bros. Discovery has merged to become part of a broadcasting strategy that includes news as well as sports, entertainment and factual content. He added: “Therefore, we have made a decision to stop the current (CNN) projects, including the live broadcast of news.” JB Brett, Discovery’s head of live broadcasting, said the company was looking for a more sustainable business model to drive its future investments in high-quality journalism and news coverage.

The market value of the entertainment giant “Netflix”

Commenting on this development, Ahmed Esmat, a consultant for media technology and digital transformation in Egypt, said that “what happened was not a first of its kind event because there are large institutions that have launched similar projects , and then re- closed after a short period, especially because the media was originally an industry that was likely to change its strategy to adapt and cater to the needs of the public. ” And Esmat added, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat: “The rapid closure of the live broadcasting service for a paid news service reminded us of what happened in the (Quebi) network, which launched the live broadcasting service over the internet has, at a cost of about $ 1.5 billion, and then closed after only 7 months … This raises doubts about paid streaming services and their applicability in reality. However, the truth is not related to the idea per se, as each project has its own reasons that led to the experiment having to be rushed. According to Ismat, “The reasons for the rapid closure of the service in the case of (CNN) may be due to the fact that the CEO of the network has made a decision to merge between the institution and (Warner Bros. Discovery ) to speed up), which led to a change of strategies … But the unfortunate thing in this regard is Dismissal of about 350 employees, which is expected to be part of the service, out of 700 employees. Ismat goes on to explain: “Although (CNN) is one of the global media organizations with huge financial profits, the failure to avoid administrative crises, in the midst of the crises facing the media, could affect its future. “

Search for content

In turn, Osama Essam El-Din, an expert in the development of social networking sites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat that “content is the main motive for the experiment. The areas focused on the service were of limited interest and very narrow, from food content to golf, cars and maternity … This is limited category content as opposed to platforms offering diverse content covering all interests and fields. ” He added: “If we look at the core (CNN) news content of this paid service, users will wonder what value a subscription will bring to them, as long as the news is already offered on (CNN), not to mention the channel’s popularity. and hearing base, which dropped to unprecedented numbers. For the past two years. ”

Osama Essam El Din

Apparently, the experience of the US network has disappointed the media market which strives to switch to paid services. Experts and specialists have questioned the public’s readiness for paid news services. However, Esmat says: “Worldwide, it can be said that the world is ready and interested in providing a paid media service, and there are experiences in the media market that confirm its readiness to receive and deal with such services. This trend is reinforced by a recent report released by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, which confirmed the growing demand for paid media services. He adds, “The Arab region may also be ready soon … In general, we are facing a business model that is moving rapidly towards paid services at the expense of free services, not the other way around, though not completely not. ” But I see that we are waiting to provide additional services or premium accounts. ” Ismat continues, “The credit for the switch to paid live broadcasting is due to civic journalism … as civic journalism has opened new doors, and the transmission of information via live broadcasting has become the fastest and most likely form, given the news service has a more immediate and credible dimension. “

On the other hand, Essam El-Din believes that “these experiments are still cautious … Although the audience is always prepared, the question must be directed to the platforms. When the audience today looks at the crowded market with services that pay for content is looking for the value that these services provide to him, whether it is in terms of diversity in content and coverage of the key areas, or the value provided by the news and coverage behind it.If we look at the experiences looking at the ground, there is no “Streaming” news platform that has proven to be a resounding success.It basically makes me wonder about the feasibility of having a platform like this.What value will a channel provide for news that is everywhere available and available? We must first ask about the value proposition and the exclusive content that such a platform can offer. ”

About the decline of “Netflix”

In the same context, expectations of experts and specialists linked the cessation of the paid network service of the American network to the decline in the market value of the entertainment giant “Netflix”, after the latter announced a loss of about 50 billion dollars due to the decrease in subscriptions . Here, Esmat comments and explains that “Netflix’s decline is not an indicator that is taken when it comes to paid services in general … It is the repercussions of the economic crisis that the world is experiencing, which is a shadow began to shed light on the culture of spending, rationalization and the rationing of expenditure. Consequently, we need to measure indicators over longer time scales and not over a cross-platform landscape. ”

But Essam El-Din believes we are “ahead of a clear decline in paid media services.” This is evidenced by the fact that “the competition is fierce, and traditional entertainment companies have realized that broadcasting via the internet is the future, which has led to their influx into the market and the entry of a new company on the line every year. “It’s enough to watch (Netflix), the most prominent service and ideal for companies in this The market loses for the first time in a decade subscribers.” Essam El-Din then points out that “the success of the paid live news broadcasting service is closely related to the quality of the press material. If it does not provide quality, accuracy and credibility, the user will not have a motive for the financial cost. Therefore, I imagine that the press has an opportunity to increase the quality of the services it provides, while the other side is that paid services put media service manufacturers ahead of the need for the elements of attraction that do not necessarily match professionalism. . ”

Finally, Issam El-Din advises media organizations, after reading and analyzing CNN’s incomplete experience, by saying: “If you want to make money from a specialized content platform, do not spend large sums as if you were a large content platform with audiences “And if you want to be an important content platform with audiences, do not make the audience feel that you are a niche platform.”

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