Content Is King, Then Why Is It Free? #watsummit

Content is the King, Then Why is it Free #watsummit


It was day 1’s last but the most exciting discussion and why wouldn’t it be, when you have minds from the traditional media, digital media, gaming industry, etc. Rajiv Dingra who was moderating the panel discussion expressed his views before he let the panelists express their opinion. Rajiv who himself started his career as a blogger in the industry and at an early age of twenty said that there is a lot of hard work and research behind generating content then why is it not being paid.


Narayanan Madhavan, Associate Editor of Hindustan Times started his thoughts with a very interesting observation that the internet industry has seen two honeymoons. One was the time in the 90’s when portals would bring traffic and today we are seeing social media i.e. the likes of Facebook and Twitter driving traffic.However he said that we are over with both thoughts and are going to see a shakeup where people will thrive for more premium content rather than user generated content.


A well said thought but premium content will be appreciated only if the user is getting something more in a time when the same premium content is freely available from the likes of free and torrent sites. Rajneel Kumar, Business Head-India, SAARC & Middle East, Jump Games brought in an interesting point saying that Content is the King and it will always remain the King but the content creator has to change his perspective too. He has to reach out to consumers otherwise he becomes a pawn.


Reaching out to consumers is a must today, everyone is not a Wall Street Journal or GigaOm. One needs to reach out to their consumers. Lavina Tauro who survives with a massive experience of 12 years in the media business shared her thoughts that how digital music industry is getting affected by illegal sites such as However Lavina added that at UTV Interactive where she is the Sr. VP, has started working on a licensing model and looking for packaged items for users so that they would be more interested in buying premium content.

I have always believed that premium content will work in today’s user generated content times only if content providers give something extra. A model that is followed by the likes of MediaNama. Nikhil Pahwa who has been a journalist and Founder of MediaNama, told the audience that a complete subscription based model is tough for blogs and sites like theirs. People are ready to pay money for insights and this thought was vehemently echoed by Narayanan too.

Nikhil also stressed on the fact that is least talked about and that is the payment model. To quote his own words, Payment models by the industry are pathetic at times; their advertisers have paid them after six months. He also shared that a complete subscription model is not something that will work, it has to be balanced with a mixture of free and premium content. For example, Medianama creates research reports from which the generic version goes out for free whereas the core numbers and facts go out as premium version.  The thought got consensus from the panel too. Rajneel stressed upon the model that Apple survives on - 80% free and 20% premium content at their end and we need to learn from them.


Nikhil shared from his experience that end of the day bad content makes money too and Google is helping them a lot. However, the only thing that matters to him is that his readers prefer research-based content that challenge decision makers and is also debated freely.[pullquote=”lhiquote”, class=”left_pull”]Google is eating everyone’s lunch in India- Nikhil[/pullquote]

With this Rajiv opened the house for questions. One interesting question that deserves a mention is – content today is being consumed by Facebook and Twitter users rather than content readers. Nikhil said that the source of readership is irrelevant to him, as long as they keep coming to him for his insightful content.


Being a blogger, I believe that content should be free but a premium model can also survive if you offer more in-depth analysis and insights to your readers. Hence, content is the king!