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Paywall Trends


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The editors at Best Colleges Online decided to research the topic of

The Paywall Trend

– There are 300 newspapers with some form of online paywall in place.
– And that number has doubled in just the last year and continues to grow.
– Some include:
– The New York Times
– 49 of the Gannett’s 80 community newspaper markets
– 6 of Lee Enterprises publications
– But will introduce digital subscriptions in most of its 52 markets by the end of 2012.
– The Los Angeles Times introduced its subscription plan in March 2012.

What’s driving this trend?

– The search by publishers for new revenue sources to offset declines in print revenue.

The Ring Leader

– NYT started it’s paywall in March 2011
– Since then the publication has announced it has enrolled 454,000 paid subscribers.
– And saw its daily circulation jump a massive 73.05% over the previous year to 1,586,757.
– NYT subscribers pay between $15 and $35 per month for the digital version of The Times.
– Depending on whether they opt for access to smartphone and tablet apps.
– Subscribers to the print version of The Times receive unlimited digital access at no additional cost.
– After NYT rolled out its paywall in early 2011, 41 American papers adopted paywalls in the third quarter of 2011.
– Up from 10 the same period the year before.
– Many, including the publishers of The Chicago Tribune, which will install its own digital paywall later this year, have pointed to the success of The New York Times’s metered access model in support of their own.

How much money do paywalls bring in for publications?

– Digital circulation now accounts for 14.2 percent of newspapers’ total figures, up from 8.66 percent last year.
– However, NYT expects it’s paywall to be revenue neutral.
– The amount of money they expect to bring in from online subscriptions is pretty much equal to the amount of money they expect to lose from online advertising.
– They expect circulation revenue to climb 25% by the end of 2013
– Gannett also projected that their paywalls and price increases would bring in an additional $100 million in annual operating earnings during 2012.

But with paywalls comes traffic loss

– Tallahasse Democrat
– Publisher: Gannett
– -37.4% change in traffic since paywall was initiated July 2010
– Newsday
– Publisher: Cablevision -23.5% change in traffic since paywall was initiated in January 2011
– The Greenville (S.C.) News Publisher: Gannett -22.5% change in traffic since paywall was initiated in July 2010

Failed Paywalls

– In 2010, Daily Variety, the big Hollywood trade magazine, put up a paywall.
– They claimed that by doing so they wouldn’t have to cover “gossip, half-truths and anonymous rants.”
– Over years the publication became less and less popular which resulted in its recent sale.
– The new owners have announced that the paywall will be coming down.
– Johnston Press – Whitby Gazette
– Paywall was put up November 2009 and taken down March 2010
– What happened? Number of paid subscribers were reportedly in the low double digits.
– Critics believe it was because the sites were ugly, out of date and rarely updated.

Most recent newspapers to institute paywalls

– The Arizona Republic in Phoenix
– The Leader-Telegramin Eau Claire., Wis.
– The Indianapolis Star
– The Columbis Dispatch in Ohio

*According to News&Tech