Thursday, June 11, 2009

Barry Diller Sez: "Pay" Internet The Norm In 5 Years

From ZD Net:
"The days of the free Internet will draw to a close over the next five years, according to the chairman and chief executive of IAC, the interactive services company which operates a collection of more than 30 Internet sites which produce $1.5 billion a year in revenue.

The only missing link, according to Barry Diller, who cut his teeth building up over-the-air and cable TV networks: a good billing system, akin to Amazon’s “one-click” button or the Apple iPhone’s slick downloading of paid applications.

“I absolutely believe the Internet is passing from its free days into a paid system. Inevitably, I promise you, it will be paid,” Diller said in a keynote discussion opening up the Advertising 2.0 conference held at his company’s futuristic glass building alongside the Hudson River in Manhattan. “Not every single thing, but anything of value.""

I called it in my post "How Mainstream Media Gets Its Groove Back" back in February -- with the same timetable!

"Within five years, I think everything I've just wrote will come to pass. I'm not saying it's right. I'm not saying it will or will not encourage creativity. I'm just saying this is likely the scenario. And if the mainstream media does not start thinking along these lines, or if they think they can survive long-term by providing nothing but free online content (when the market for paper shrinks more every day), they will collapse."

Diller went on to say:

"The fact that content and services on the Internet so far have been largely supplied for no charge is “an accident of historical moment that will be corrected,” he said, in an era of “creative chaos” that will span the next three to five years."


  1. One reason these kind of predictions sound extreme is that the langauge for this hypothetical new internet hasn't been worked out yet. Sure, I have a water bill each month that I have to pay in order get fresh water into my house; and sure, I pay 50¢ or whatever for a cup of water at a restaurant; but if I travelled back in time to 1860 and shouted, "In the future, there's no such thing as a drink of free water," I'd (rightly) be seen as a nut. Not all water is valuable, and in the future, plenty of free internet will fall from the sky and puddle up at our feet in mudholes — but the good stuff, delivered right to your kitchen, is going to cost you. And you know what? We'll probably be happier for it, because there'll be no more trips down to the well that Pa had to dig out with a spade just to make a pot of coffee.

  2. Anonymous6:37 PM

    And thus, the circle is complete.

  3. I think the "historical accident" is making money off media.

    Starving artist have literally thousands of years of precedence.

    What produced this blip of for-pay media was inefficient distribution channels. That inefficiency is now being corrected.

    I realize it sucks for all the artist who must return to starving. However, I think human beings will fair better overall with their culture being less of a commodity.

  4. Seems a bit extreme to me. I haven't seen any evidence that people are going to be able to stop anything interesting from becoming copypasta.

    Especially text content. You might make things pay only, but only one person is gonna end up paying for it and everyone else is just going to read over his shoulder, metaphorically.

  5. Aren't most sites protected in that they already charge a fee to join? I'm already paying monthly for a few sites I belong to and a music site that I pay as I go.

    Nothing is locked up completely (except maybe if there was, there would still be software to copy it.

    I think Diller is just trying to scare people and everything will just remain the same. The business models are still changing and I don't see them getting locked down in five years since the technology keeps evolving at such a fast pace...

  6. In response to Trevor

    The thousands of years of starving artists was due to other economic models where artists had to gain the patronage of royalty, the emporer's inner circle, the church, etc., to be known in their lifetime. In a capitalist society, art will continue to make money.

    OTOH, if what you are referring to is the end of the oligopoly on media channels I agree. Artists will be able to individually and collectively collect payment for themselves as the means of distribution is now in their hands.

  7. In response to Ian,

    I disagree. Most people are willing to pay a fair price for a fair product. If artists sell their work directly they will be able to avoid a lot of overhead costs.

  8. Anonymous2:12 PM

    Bummer. I pay for my (high-speed) internet now. The stuff I like (blogs, mostly) are "free". Is this going to change? Are we going to have to pay to view your blog to be in line with the new world order?

  9. Free? Im already paying for high speed internet.