Paywalls: The future of the press or a barrier for digital progress

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Last month, the global pricing study by Simon-Kucher & Partners showed that 90 per cent of online content would likely be held behind a paywall in the coming years, while 27 per cent of media companies said that they expect a significant shift in profit margin increase over the same three year period.

This outlook is likely to see the end of the ‘free for all’ online culture with two thirds of media companies expecting fees to be introduced for most of the content available online.

It comes as no surprise that after a successful trial for their international users that the Telegraph Media Group are set to launch their metered paywall around content for The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph.

Non- subscribers will still be able to access 20 articles a month for free, followed by a £1.99 per month charge. The full

Online content goes behind a paywall

source: ereleases.com

digital pack, which includes tablet editions, costs £9.99 a month.

If they wish to read more then they will be able to choose between two digital subscription pages:

• The Telegraph web pack offers unlimited access to the paper’s online content, plus access to its smartphone apps, for £1.99 per month (or £20 per year).

• The full digital pack, which also includes access to the Telegraph titles on tablet devices plus loyalty club membership, will cost £9.99 a month (or £99 per year).

This metered model is favoured by newspapers across the US – notably at the New York Times – and Canada. It is also employed in Britain by the Financial Times, but the Telegraph becomes the first general newspaper in the UK to introduce it.

By contrast, The Times and Sunday Times site is protected by a full paywall, restricting all access to users unless they pay for a subscription.

Both titles have continued to see a drop in their online readership since the paywall came into force with many blaming their strict subscription policy for this in favour of the metered model.

Not long after, The Sun also announced its plans to introduce a paywall in the second half of 2013.

This will coincide with the launch of its debut Premier League football video highlights being made available on the site from 17 August.

But the question must be asked are The Sun readers an audience who would adapt well to this new change, even with the access to Premier League matches?

Simon Fox, chief executive of Trinity Mirror has said that his publishing group will not place any of its content behind a paywall, choosing instead to expand the reach and quality of his publications.

Lord Rothermere, chairman of DMGT, has said that the MailOnline will also remain free, but the media wing of his business is experimenting with the launch of the Daily Mail Plus. Where by although certain aspects of the site will remain free of charge, users will have to pay for premium content.

The paywall is inevitable for the future of press consumption, as digital media becomes ever more the preferred method of access to the news. We believe NewsInt will watch their competitors success or otherwise with the metered approach and may well review their business model.

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