UK Newspaper Drops Paywall After Less Than 10 People Subscribe

from the disasters dept

As Rupert Murdoch moves forward with his plans to put in place a paywall for the online sites of some of his UK newspapers, he may want to look around carefully. Jeff Sonderman points us to the news of a UK newspaper publisher that put in place a paywall of £5 for three months of access to its newspaper websites late last year — only to find that the paywall has been quietly dropped after less than ten people signed up at one of the papers:

A source at one of the titles involved in the trial said it had been a “disaster” and that the number of people subscribing had been in single figures.

This fits with Newsday’s experiment, where only 35 non-Cablevision subscribers were willing to sign up. Newspapers keep over-estimating the willingness of people to pay to read websites.

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Comments on “UK Newspaper Drops Paywall After Less Than 10 People Subscribe”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: yeah

“an uppercut to the checkbook”

That wont help either, they will just go out and rationalize that this “next” thing (iPad in this case) will save them. Rupert Murdoch and the other media distribution types think that there is a solution when there isnt.

Here is the source of all the problems for media distribution companies …

Infinite sources of competition, some of which falls across different media types (TV, radio, internet, etc), reduces the available pool of consumers for any given source to something approaching zero. This over time reduces the profitability of these legacy media distributors to a number that approaches zero. While there is no such thing as an infinite number of sources, we are at the point where the number of news sources has reached a level that has partially saturated the news market. This trend will continue into the future so that even free news paper will begin to see a decline.



DH's love child says:

One of these days they MIGHT learn...

My hometown newspaper (other side of the country from where I live) recently put up a paywall. They are using the same flawed logic – subscribers to the local paper get free access. I don’t know what the numbers are, but instead of reading it every day like I used to, I only look about once a week, since I can’t read more than headlines anyway. Wehn I actually want news from that region, I either go to one of the local radio’s site or I read the paper from the next town over which will cover the important stuff anyway. It’s stupid of these folks to try to stuff the genie in the bottle like that. *sigh*

Flakey says:

We gotta be paid

The whole sense of entitlement is whackeyed and is largely demonstrated as a disaster by the entertainment groups as a whole that are playing copyguard.

Just because you have a product, does not entitle you to guaranteed income, it doesn’t matter if that product is food, music, nor news. You have to give the user of your product some reason to select it over the competition, especially if you are going to look at selling.

If you fail to deliver on this reason, expect to fail at selling and profit. This has been the whole message that Techdirt has been trying to put out to the public and the one that is most often ignored because it isn’t what those selling want to hear. That *gasp* they may have to work at it instead of just putting it out to tell folks why it’s better than the rest of the competition that either costs less or nothing at all.

I don’t know about you but I’m willing to pay for quality. I am not willing to pay as much for less value than something else I see as worth more. News is not on a high category with me in the sense that I will pay very much for it when there are tons of sites out there I can pick it up for free at and the majority seem to be of the same quality as the pay-for sites. This comes back to the news rewriting that most news sites do and then think they are entitled to payment because they reworded the news. To me, that didn’t add enough value to the quality to make it worth it.

The response to paywalls tells me I’m not alone in this perceived value.

DH's love child says:

Re: We gotta be paid

It’s business 101. I have a whole bunch of sh!t in my house that I would love to get paid for, but I’m pretty sure nobody wants to buy it. These idiots also WAY overprice the product.
Ah, well.. they don’t care about me, so they don’t even know I’m NOT buying what they’re shoveling out.

Mr Fnortner (profile) says:

Sometimes works, sometimes

Consumer Reports magazine charges its subscribers for the same information online that they put in the mag. I think there may be additional info too, but I don’t know since I won’t pay. They seem to be happy with their arrangement, but I can’t say whether they make any money at it. It seems foolish to me. I’d rather pay $2 more per year for the mag (if they’d charge everybody) and have bonus online access.

Comboman (profile) says:

Re: Sometimes works, sometimes

Consumer Reports is a bit of a special case. To ensure the impartiality of their reviews they don’t accept advertising in either their magazine or their web site. I subscribed for a couple years when I was first married and making a lot of big purchases (major appliances and such) and it was worth the money. There are lots of free review sites like ePinions, but they can be gamed by astroturfing manufacturers and retailers, and even legitimate user reviews are often useless (“I’m too stupid to read the manual, therefore there must be a problem with the product.”). With CR, you’re not really paying for content so much as you are paying for trusted, unbiased expertise.

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