6 years ago (August 2009) it was announced that the Times Newspapers will start to charge for online content having failed dramatically to make them pay their way through using the conventional advertising route. As one of the leaders at the time it wasnt long until other media outlets followed this lead and began to move to a charging model all base
And 6 years later what has happened?
Well firstly after a bumpy start its clear that the pay per read model is hear to stay, the Times is currently offering a variety of digital options, how does £12 for 12 weeks grab you, no me neither! You can even get a print and digital pack, clearly trying to cover all bases, a paper to hold and one to read on your tablet.
At the time alot of people ask whether mainstream news coverage – low-quality, opinion-driven news offal aimed at the common man would actually have a value online? Well the answer is a resounding yes, indeed in 2013 the Times were quoting 140,000 digital subscribers* and the New York Times has reached 1 digital only million subscribers (Aug 2015) *, so the project is clearly a successful one for the big newspapers.
This whole charging for content had a bumpy start, people commented it would never work indeed you only need to look at some of the traditional newspapers to see how they have a fundamentally different offering online – have you been on the Sun recently, this is one of biggest UK newspapers and I think gives a really frustrating user experience yet if you compare this to the Guardian that remains free to access and read no matter what you read….Interestingly the SUN used to be all behind a paywall, however in June this year significant content moved was outside of this to ‘exploit social sharing’
“The guiding principle for the free content will be shareability, helping us to take advantage of the growing trend of readers finding and sharing content on social media, given further impetus by the rapid rise in smartphone use.” Mike Darcey, Chief Exec of News UK.
So after six years its clear that with all the publicity and PR, making headlines to test the market the response has been favourable for the BIG names in the news industry, unless of course your demographic is different and you want to exploit this social environment we now live in and that has grown massively in the last six years.
* source the Media Briefing (http://www.themediabriefing.com/article/times-digital-subscribers-reach-140-000-as-paywall-project-reaches-maturity)
*source CNN Money (http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/06/media/new-york-times-digital-subscribers/)