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.
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Filed Under: journalism, newsappers, paywall, uk
Companies: johnston press

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Dec 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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