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#Podcast – Then and now: Two years of the New York Times paywall

March 28th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Paid-for content, Podcast

Just two days ago in the UK the Telegraph launched a metered paywall, which would require subscription once users exceed a 10 article allowance, following the introduction of the model for international-only traffic last year.

The Telegraph’s model was described as having a “New York Times-style ‘meter’”, and was launched in the same week as the New York Times’s paywall reaches two years in operation – two years today, in fact.

So in this week’s podcast we speak to general manager for core digital products at the New York Times Paul Smurl about how the environment in 2011 at launch differs to that today, when it comes to launching an online payment model. We also discuss the impact of the metered model on the rest of the industry with Robert Picard, director of research at the Reuters Institute and Tim Cain, head of research and insight at the Association of Online Publishers.

Interviewees:

  • Paul Smurl, general manager for core digital products, New York Times
  • Robert Picard, director of research at the Reuters Institute, at the University of Oxford
  • Tim Cain, head of research and insight, Association of Online Publishers

For more on the first two years of the New York Times paywall see this Journalism.co.uk feature, based on our interview with Paul Smurl.

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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#wef12: 5 steps from New York Times Company on building digital subs model

September 3rd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers, Online Journalism

The latest results reported by the New York Times Company showed a total of more than 500,ooo paid digital subscribers. This was an increase on the 454,000 paying subscribers recorded a year after NYT.com launched its online subscriptions model, which refers to subscribers across the New York Times and International Herald Tribune.

And this is not including the 700,ooo print subscribers who also gain digital access to the company’s content, according to New York Times Company vice chairman Michael Golden.

In fact a report published last month, as covered by AllThingsD, predicted that the New York Times “will have more digital subscribers than print subs within a couple of years”.

So when Golden took to the stage at the World Editors Forum today for a session on ‘how some newspaper companies are succeeding’, his presentation was unsurprisingly focused on digital subscriptions.

We were laughed at we were scorned … after the launch here’s what we’re seeing now, people are saying it’s a great success

He said the introduction of digital subs at the New York Times has boosted staff morale: it has “changed the way people walk around the building”, he said.

So for others keen to also build a digital subscription model he offered these five steps:

  • Be very clear on what you’re doing

Golden said the company spent much time studying this, and what their overall goals were, such as”to develop a significant revenue source because our business model demanded it”.

The aim was also to build a “one-to-one digital relationship with consumers and protect digital advertising”.

  • Align the entire organisation around it

It “cannot be an editorial project alone”, he said.

  • Remember readers know what they want

Audiences are indicating every day what they do or do not want to read, and on what platform they like to consume it.

He added that the launch itself is “incredibly important” within this: it will either “create momentum or lack momentum” he said.

  • Think and act like a digital company
  • And finally, continue

He spoke about the ways publishers can work to continue to increase subscriptions, such as the Times’s ‘Most Engaged User’ initiative which rewarded the most engaged subscribers.

Its move from a “gateway” of 20 articles a month to 10 articles a month also helped it see “another boost in subscriptions”, he added.

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Media release: Piano Media raises paywall price with ‘steady revenue’ in place

February 14th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

Piano Media has announced that it is raising the price of the national paywall it established in Slovakia last year, a move its CEO Tomas Bella says in a release had been the plan for once the platform was “accepted”.

The decision to raise the price follows the launch of the company’s second joint national paywall in Slovenia last month, involving nine publishers in the country.

In Slovakia the price will go up from 1 March, the release adds, from €.99 to €1.39 a week, €2.90 to €3.90 a month and from €29 to €39 for a year.

With steady revenue and reader growth established, Piano’s pricing structure moves into its next development phase after gaining broad acceptance by Slovakia’s digital readers.

In the release Bella adds: “The number of our subscribers is still going up. More and more people are telling us that they were against the concept at first but now have gotten used to the idea and already feel comfortable with paying.”

The company confirmed in the release that it “is in negotiations with publishers in 11 European countries and has plans to launch in more European markets by the end of 2012″.

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Guardian: American Vogue launches £1,000-a-year archive paywall

December 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines

American Vogue is making its archive of every image in its 119 year history available online, according to the Guardian.

The library – searchable by image, designer, date, model and brand – will come with a hefty pricetag of $1,575 (£1,015)-a-year.

The Guardian says it could be a valuable resource, despite the cost, explaining it promises to reduce search time “that might have taken weeks of painstaking research using paper archives”.

The archive is being marketed as a business-to-business resource, aimed at design professionals. A limited version, the extent of which is not yet clear, will be made available to Vogue’s subcribers in 2012.

The strategic importance of the move goes beyond the revenue the paywall will deliver. “This is Condé Nast waving a flag about what the Vogue brand could be,” says Douglas McCabe, media analyst at Enders Analysis. “What they are saying is: Vogue is absolutely the authoritative player in this field. There aren’t many magazine brands that could line up behind this and copy what they’ve done. That’s one of the points Vogue is making.”

The article goes on to say that some feel the £1,000-a-year fee is too high, whereas “some are in full support of the subscription fee”.

“The moral outrage people feel about being asked to pay for content is misguided. Actually, I’m surprised the price is so low,” comments Chris Sanderson, co-founder of trend forecasting consultancy the Future Laboratory. “The archive is clearly being marketed to creative professionals. The searchability gives it real value, because you have the ability to drill down into content and locate exactly what you need.

The Guardian’s full article is here: Vogue launches online archive of every American issue in its 119-year history.

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Investigative journalism news site ExaroNews launches

A new investigative journalism site is today marking the launch of its “field trial”, during which time it will test the platform and carry a selection of articles “to give people an idea of what is coming”.

ExaroNews aims to “hold power to account” and will launch as a fully-fledged, paywalled investigative news site “in a few weeks”, with a focus on appealing to readers in the business community, Mark Watts, the site’s editor told Journalism.co.uk.

The new organisation plans to encourage WikiLeaks-style whistleblowing, hoping those with a potential story will contact the Fleet Street-based editorial team or leave the documents in an anonymous drop box, which will launch at a later date, Watts explained.

The server is physically located outside of the jurisdiction which means it makes it much safer in terms of attempts to find out who has passed information on.

As well as hoping to have leaked documents to investigate, the team of mainly freelance journalists will spend the majority of time “crawling public data for stories that are generally going missed”.

The journalists will be “investigating governments in the widest sense of that word, investigating public bodies and what they are up to” by analysing the “increasing volume of public data available”, Watts said.

Journalists working for a mainstream media title don’t really have the time to assess and make sense of that data.

The team of journalists

The growing team of journalists working for the organisation includes “people who have worked on both broadsheet and tabloid newspapers, people who have worked in broadcasting and people from trade magazine backgrounds”, Watts told Journalism.co.uk.

One of those is former Westminster correspondent for the Guardian David Hencke, he said, plus there are “those who are much fresher out of journalism college, particularly those who have learned a bit about data journalism and a bit about how to make use of information that is put in the public domain by an array of public bodies”.

Watts himself ran the investigations unit at the now-defunct Sunday Business, and has worked on the Sunday Times and on TV programme World in Action.

Sample stories

One of the stories currently on the site is on negotiations between the new Libyan government and the UK, which, according to Watts, was later reported in the Sunday Times.

Former Guardian journalist David Hencke has a series of stories on the site “how auditors found crazy examples of misspending by all sorts of Whitehall departments and all this was gathered from audit reports that were in the public domain but had not been picked up on”, Watts said.

Subscription costs

Paywall prices have not yet been set and readers will be able to access the site by paying for a subscription or can opt to micro-buy articles, Watts explained.

The site is particularly, but not exclusively, aimed at a business and City audience,  simply because we think that that’s probably where the paying audience will be, as distinct from the general consumer, which has got used to the idea of having content for free.

Once the paywall is launched readers will see a homepage with introductions to articles and will be then prompted to micro-buy or subscribe.

Investigative journalism does cost money and although people are getting used to the idea of getting news content for nothing, of course what they are often getting for free is just regurgitated, rehashed, or, to use that phrase, churned material which its no wonder is free as really it is pretty valueless.

ExaroNews is holding a launch party this evening (1 November).

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Sydney Morning Herald: The Australian to reveal paywall details this week

October 18th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that News Limited (the Australian arm of News Corporation) will officially announce its paywall for the Australian this week, after it outlined plans for a ‘freemium’ subscription model for its online content back in June.

It had already been announced that the model will offer access to some content for free, but others will require payment.

According to the SMH report the site will charge $2.95 a week to access all content across the website and its phone and tablet apps.

It will be the first paywall for a general newspaper in Australia, an experiment that has achieved mixed success overseas by newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, the Financial Times and The Economist.

It will follow the approach of News Corp stablemate The Wall Street Journal. Some stories will be able to be read for free while others will need a subscription to be read, most likely to be its analysis and specialised sections.

At the World Editors Forum last week, three publishers – including the New York Times – outlined their paywall strategies and lessons they had learnt along the way.

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News International: ‘no decision made on Sun paywall’

October 17th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

News International has responded to reports that it has decided not to introduce a paywall at the Sun, as it has for the Times, Sunday Times, and did for the now-defunct News of the World site, denying that a decision has been made over charges.

A report today by paidContent suggests that new chief executive Tom Mockridge has decided against a paywall.

News International has finally decided against introducing usage fees for The Sun’s website and is performing a restructure to place more emphasis on advertising sales, paidContent understands.

The Sun will introduce a paid mobile content app imminently; it is currently consulting with readers on the appropriate fee. But it will not be following Rupert Murdoch’s edict in which he appeared to say that all his news titles’ websites should charge.

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Slovakian media goes behind the paywall

Yesterday nine news outlets in Slovakia joined together to put up a joint paywall in front of parts of its content – some more than others – as part of a new premium content subscription model by Piano Media.

The platform means users pay a monthly fee of €2.90 ($4.20) for unlimited access to all sites.

Once users have subscribed they will automatically be logged in to all of the participating sites, which in Slovakia currently includes Pravda and SME, along with video portals, tv stations and magazines.

Publishers have decided how much content they wish to place behind the paywall, some closing almost all their content to non-paying users while others are leaving general news free and instead selecting content such as commentaries as premium material to be paid for.

The paywall launched yesterday with a free two-week trial, with charges coming into effect from 2 May.

We spoke to Piano Media CEO Tomas Bella, about the reaction from within Slovakia so far.

Listen!
In the coming weeks and months there are plans to incorporate the subscriptions within Internet Service Provider packages, to be offered to users when they sign up for their connection, as well as launches in other countries such as the Czech Republic.

Bella told Journalism.co.uk the aim is for after the first year to have 0.8 to 1.5 per cent of internet users paying subscriptions to the system and five to 15 per cent after three or four years.

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Mashable: What impact has the NY Times paywall had on traffic?

Mashable has been attempting to discover the impact of the New York Times metered-paywall on web traffic.

It is early days as the wall only went up on 28 March but the analysis suggests a reduction of between five and 10 per cent in traffic and a fall in pageviews by up to 30 per cent.

It is perhaps not surprising that pageviews have taken a greater hit as the metered-paywall model allows readers to access up to 20 articles a month free, so users may be deterred from clicking as many pages .

So here’s the big question: Is NYT’s paywall a success or a failure? When it comes to this big-picture question, we still don’t have enough information to make a conclusion. The paywall simply hasn’t been around long enough and we don’t have the financial data to see whether the paywall has made up for the loss in advertising revenue.

Mashable’s full article is at this link.

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paidContent: Sulzberger: $40m estimate for paywall cost is ‘vastly wrong’

April 6th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Arthur Sulzberger has said Bloomberg’s report stating the development of the New York Times’ paywall cost between $40 million and $50 million is “vastly wrong”, but refused to say what the switch to paid digital content did cost, according to a post on paidContent.

Sulzberger also declined to offer any numbers when it comes to subscribers, saying it was too soon but that the company would provide some details eventually. At another point, asked about complaints that the pay plan is too complex, he urged people to be patient. Noting that the company was able to tweak the system between the launch in Canada and the US-global launch 10 days later, Sulzberger said: “We’re going to learn, adapt, make it simpler. But I don’t agree that it’s too complex. It’s new. Let it breathe for a little bit before you make judgment.”

paidContent’s full post is at this link.

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