Local UK Newspaper Chain Tries A Paywall

from the good-luck dept

Slowly, but surely, we're seeing some regional newspapers try out a paywall. We've already seen Newsday, on Long Island, put up a paywall, but it's more about reducing churn than actually getting people to pay (and early reports are that not many are paying). Now, as a bunch of readers sent in, Johnston Press, in the UK has announced a paywall as well, asking £5 for three months of access (which certainly beats Newsday's ridiculous $5/week plan. I'm glad that some newspapers are actually trying this out, as it was getting a bit tiresome hearing them all threaten to do so without any actual action. Now we can actually see what happens. Of course, my opinion on the matter has been clear. I think it will be a lot more difficult to get people to pay than these publishers believe, and it will be a lot more expensive to manage than they believe. Also, the writers for the papers behind paywalls might not like the fact that no one knows who they are any more. At the same time, it will only serve to open up the competitive market for others to come in at a better price point (i.e., "free") and scoop up a significant percentage of the advertisers who are seeking to reach a larger audience.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Thomas (profile), Nov 30th, 2009 @ 8:51pm

    They might ..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Thomas (profile), Nov 30th, 2009 @ 8:58pm

    Because it might work for some business models.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    1DandyTroll, Nov 30th, 2009 @ 11:50pm

    If you can charge twice

    then you're doubly rich, right?

    Seems like the biggest pay-wall re-inventors didn't fare too well in their ingenious buy-everything-real-estate-just-before-the-economy-collapses-muhahaha-plan.

    Guess, maybe it wasn't just the biggest ones who suddenly felt the need for more cash all of a whopping sudden.

     

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  4.  
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    Yogi, Nov 30th, 2009 @ 11:56pm

    Re: They might ..

    Thanks for the link - interesting read.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    miked (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:29am

    Re: They might ..

    I agree, that was a nice read.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 5:17am

    Re: They might ..

    Interesting read for sure. Sadly, Mike isn't interested in the other side of the story, because it doesn't fit in with his "FREE!" worldview. The article points out exactly all the same sorts of reasons discussed here before, from narrowing the focus to allowing the website to go from a money losing sink hole to a profit center.

    Mike doesn't also grasp the idea that not all websites want just the most viewers, but rather they want a profitable business model.

    Here is maybe a way to explain it: Much of online ads are sold on CPM rates, and sites are often getting very small payouts, well under $1 for 1000 views net per page. So if your site gets 2 page views per user, you are generating $2 per 1000 users. It isn't hard to see where a subscription, at say $5 per week (Newsday) means that you can lose 90%+ of your viewership and still make about as much money, and experience lower distribtuion costs, less machine costs, etc. Plus, the eyeballs that you do have are paying to be there, and thus even more valuable to the limited number of advertisers you have to put into the online edition.

    The online theory is that "more is good", but the wrong more isn't always good.

     

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  7.  
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    paywall, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: They might ..

    Looks like a market niche - no ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Re: They might ..

    Local newspapers are by definition a "niche product". Very few people outside of Mechanicsburg,PA are going to want to real the local paper. However, Google search may end up putting them on the top of a search for something and tens of thousands of people could flood a single page to read the story. However, that paper is selling LOCAL advertising, and all those eyeballs from London, Mumbai, and Los Angeles are worthless to them. They are actually just cost.

    The usual answer here is "use an ad broker to put ads out there relevant to those users". This is nice, but it often defeats the true nature of a local paper. Local papers sell local ads to local business to talk to local people. Pulling those ads out and replacing them with generic sized ad units that are managed by someone else would remove the local aspects of the paper, and defeat their true usefulness to the local people.

    A local market paper doesn't need all of the internet, and it's a poor assumption to think that every local newspaper that happens to be online would want to build their business on getting eyeballs from outside of their market.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: They might ..

    Actually one thing they should try is subscriptions to e-book readers. I would pay for that. Its actually nice to have the whole newspaper with ads and all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: They might ..

    I read the above link also - but it occurred to me that they might have made MORE money by leaving the website free - but simply rattling a collecting tin - in the form of a donate button (maybe - "support your local paper" button).

    I guess that the actual subscribers they got would probably have donated as much that way - and the extra "free" eyeballs might also have chipped in a little.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Rob, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 5:17pm

    local news

    For local news I don't see it being a problem from a business perspective. Hell, I like 'free', but I'd happily pay a modest amount for good online access to local news (our local small town/region paper is distributed free in paper form for locals).

    Really it's down to a scarcity of information - noone else reports on local news here. In a national or international scope, all the papers report on essentially the same information (except the Darwin [Northern Territory capital, Australia] papers, who write about cows being rescued from the sea and crocodiles in the main street :) ).

     

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  12.  
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    Rob, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 5:27pm

    Re: local news

    Oh, and for another perspective than the linked article, try this one on for size:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/30/journalism-paywall-johnston-press

    It was amusing to see a business decision being transformed into traditional journalism being crusaders against injustice.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: They might ..

    "A local market paper doesn't need all of the internet, and it's a poor assumption to think that every local newspaper that happens to be online would want to build their business on getting eyeballs from outside of their market."

    Then they can block Google in 5 minutes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Honey, Dec 4th, 2009 @ 1:37am

    No need of English for girls pictures free images hot online games boys wallpapers all local news etc. Websites can take huge profit from it.

    Local News method: - Press in the address bar, any three keys twice, which are together on keyboard in downward diagnal angle e.g. http://99iijj.com [Ctrl+Enter = www. . com]. This option is working from whole keyboard. After this you will see a web page of http://local-news.atoall.com Now non English world can read news on internet by http://atoall.com theory.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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