Canada deters online revenue streams

Print media refuses to adopt content pay walls

TORONTO -- Even as Canadian newspapers struggle to remain afloat, Deloitte Canada predicts few will follow the Wall Street Journal and other American dailies and adopt pay walls and micropayments for new revenue streams.

Releasing its annual Canadian technology, media and telecommunications forecast for 2010, Deloitte said Canuck print media will instead continue to fight for dominance of the ad-driven online marketplace and not risk reductions in online traffic from charging for online content.

"Of the very few publishers who do implement them, (online) subscription revenues are unlikely to be large ... and they are likely to continue to lose subscribers," Deloitte reported.

That prediction came as Canwest Global Communications Corp. receives formal offers for its national newspaper chain after its print division filed for creditor protection earlier this month.

And rival publishers like Quebecor Media and Rogers Media continue to cut costs as ad rates for print media fall even faster than online ad rates during the economic downturn.

Rather than erect pay walls, Deloitte said Canadian print media will adopt a mix of revenue models to reduce ongoing cannibalization of existing print subscribers.

"Instead of monthly or annual subscriptions, readers will likely purchase content 'one bite at a time,' a model that has generated billions of dollars of revenue, 99 cents at a time, in the music and smartphone application markets," Deloitte argued.

The 2010 forecast also estimated Canadian online advertising will rebound from its current slump to grow by roughly 15% year-on-year by the end of 2011.