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virtualeconomics: Why a Telegraph paywall might just work

December 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

News from the Financial Times yesterday that Telegraph.co.uk could start charging for content prompts this post from Seamus McCauley on why a Telegraph paywall might just work at this time:

The paywall strategy makes sense for the Telegraph if its management believes two things.

First, that the online news landscape is changing so that professional news – especially, perhaps, professional conservative newspaper journalism – becomes markedly scarcer online … Second, that the Telegraph’s current monetisation strategy – which is to attract a mass audience and show them display and search ads – is coming to an end.

There’s much more detail behind this arguments, so its worth reading the full post on virtualeconomics at this link…

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Telegraph.co.uk to charge for news online, says FT

November 30th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Business

The Financial Times is reporting that Telegraph Media Group is planning to introduce a charge for access to its online news content.

According to the report, the payment barrier could be brought in late next year and sources have told the FT that it will not be “an impregnable paywall like the Times” but most likely a metered system, as employed by the Financial Times itself.

A TMG spokesperson told the FT that no decisions have been made on the introduction of a paid-content model.

Full story on the FT at this link…

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James Harding: Times paywall is a revolution for its journalism

November 2nd, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers

After months of waiting, News International released figures for its much-discussed Times and Sunday Times paywalls today.

According to a release from the group, the Times and Sunday Times have more than 105,000 “paid-for customers to date”. This figures includes subscribers to the websites and to the Times’ iPad app and Kindle editions. Around half of these are monthly subscribers, News International says, adding that “many of the rest” are either single copy or pay-as-you go sales.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, the Times’ editor James Harding said it was “early days” but that he was “hugely encouraged” by the figures so far:

What we’ve seen is for the first time in 225 years we’re selling copies of the Times on something other than paper; we’re seeing that those people who read the digital editions of the Times and the Sunday Times really like them, if they sign up for a trial they tend to stick with us; and most importantly we’re able to say something that very few papers can say which is that we’re growing …

What you get now is you see over a couple of million people who look at the front page of the Times online … we’d engaged in quite a suicidal form of economics which was giving our journalism away for free and we knew that if we continued to do that we couldn’t invest in reporting. So what our concern was was would be cut off from the internet conversation and the truth is that we haven’t been, because a) the media works as a huge echo chamber so our stories get picked up and the other thing we’re seeing is that our readers engage with or stories and comment on our stories in a much deeper way …

What you’re seeing here is something at it’s very early stages, but also a revelation as well as a revolution in journalism. The iPad edition for us has changed the way we are doing our journalism and technology as we all know can be a tricky business.

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AOP: Video publishing platform Ooyala using Paypal for paywall

October 21st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Video publishing platform Ooyala is using PayPal to create a paywall option for clients. The Ooyala Paywall will make it easier for publishers to earn revenue from live and on-demand videos on their sites, says the firm.

Full report on the AOP’s website at this link…

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Marketing magazine: Will Mirror newspapers be next to put up paywalls?

October 19th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Following News of the World’s launch of its paywall last week, Marketing magazine reports on similar plans at the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.

Daily Mirror columnists, including political writer Paul Routledge and sports columnist Oliver Holt, will provide the foundation for the title’s premium content strategy. However, the Daily Mirror’s general news will remain free.

Full story at Marketing magazine at this link…

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TheMediaBriefing: What news publishers can learn from supermarkets

October 5th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Patrick Smith maps out “the [Tesco] Clubcard model for news”:

To stretch analogy out to news, what’s for sale on your shelves? The kind of thing you think consumers are after, or what you know they want to buy? In a print age there is only hope and focus grouping: the call is made by the editor and publisher each day what goes into the paper both editorially and commercially, largely based on flimsy research and an instinctive understanding of a title’s brand.

Full post on TheMediaBriefing at this link…

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Mail Online: Johnston Press chief rules out more paywalls

October 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

John Fry, head of Johnston Press, has ruled out future paywalls for JP’s newspaper websites, following the unsuccessful trial on selected sites late last year.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Fry says:

While a respectable number of users were prepared to pay, it wasn’t enough to offset the slump in ad revenues.

As Fry says: “With the internet it’s free and has been from the beginning. After 15 years of free it’s hard to change people’s habits.”

Apps and media mergers are more likely to help the regional press, he says.

Full interview on Mail Online at this link…

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Boston Globe joins New York Times in paywall plans

October 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Not much of a surprise perhaps – the Boston Globe, also owned by the New York Times company, has announced plans for a new paywalled website in the second half of 2011.

The paid-for site BostonGlobe.com will feature news, features, photojournalism and full stories from the daily and Sunday editions of the paper; the current website Boston.com will remain as part of the subscription and registration model and will focus on sport, local news, arts and culture.

Full story on Media Decoder at this link…

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Some questions ahead of a News of the World paywall

September 17th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business

News International’s announcement yesterday that the News of the World’s website will go behind a paywall wasn’t a complete surprise, given the same move by stablemates the Times and Sunday Times in July.

As yet there haven’t been any official figures released by NI about the traffic to its existing paywalled sites. There’s been plenty of speculation and unlike the News of the World’s website, the Times’ site was audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic up until February, when it posted 20,418,256 monthly unique users.

So many questions about the success or progress of the Times and Sunday Times paywalls remain unanswered, prompting more questions about Rupert Murdoch’s decision to add the News of the World site to the paid experiment.

  • Does NOTW.co.uk have a large enough audience already to sustain a switch to paid access?

It’s hard to find official stats for traffic to the existing NOTW website. Last October, the site said it had a record traffic day attracting 585,000 visitors from within the UK. For a record traffic month then, the site could attract around 17.5 million UK users. How likely to pay are non-UK users? Some breakdown of the Times and Sunday Times’ figures would be helpful again at this point…

  • In erecting the Times and Sunday Times paywalls News International’s line was all about protecting quality journalism by getting people to pay for it. The price point for NOTW.co.uk will be lower, but is its content enough?
  • No official figures for the Sun’s iPad app launched in June have yet been released and the Times’ iPad app has suffered some teething problems. At £1.19 for every four weeks, how many NOTW readers own iPads and vice versa, and is this price point too high?
  • Where does this leave the Sun?

Reports earlier this year suggested that by blocking crawlers from news aggregators from its site the Sun was gearing up for a paywall launch. Possibly, or possibly this can be put down to senior executive’s feelings towards search engines and aggregators.

  • How will a paywall affect print readership?

There are as yet no combined print and digital offers on the table from NOTW. According to the ABC’s figures for August 2010, the average net circulation for the print edition was 2,868,850 a day. Since the launch of its paywalled site the Times’ average daily net circulation has only decline slightly by 1.9 per cent – will the NOTW hold up in the same way?

And finally – it’s not just media reporters that are calling for more transparency and figures in the great paywall experiment. Advertisers and agencies want them too, according to this Bloomberg report:

Starcom MediaVest, which has placed ads for the Emirates airline and Continental Airlines Inc., has cut its advertising on the Times and Sunday Times by more than 50 per cent, Bailes [Chris Bailes, digital trading manager at Starcom MediaVest Group] said. News Corp’s international unit hasn’t communicated with media buyers about its online figures, he said.

“We wouldn’t put our money where we don’t know the numbers, just as you wouldn’t invest in a stock,” Bailes said.

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Guardian staffer on paywalls: Unprofitable news businesses are ‘enfeebled and vulnerable’

September 17th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Interesting response from Guardian staffer Stephen Moss to MediaGuardian blogger Roy Greenslade’s post on the News of the World’s plans for a paywall announced yesterday.

Greenslade argues that Rupert Murdoch is “indulging in information protectionism” and with the Times’ and Sunday Times’ paywalled websites has removed the titles from online conversations.

Moss responds in the comments:

Have the Times “dropped out of the national conversation”, whatever that absurdly woolly phrase means. There seems to have been huge discussion (e.g. on Twitter) about their Populus poll findings and Clegg’s incendiary piece on welfare in today’s paper, so they seem still to be absolutely in the ‘national conversation’.

And the fact remains that news orgs have to try to make some dosh. It’s not enough to say paywalls don’t work; you – and the industry – have to come up with a package that does work, which in my view will mean protecting certain print products, paywalling some (tho (sic) by no means all) online material and building networks around information-gathering interest groups which can be monetised by donation and/or through the sale of ancillary products and services. There is no one big answer; there are a range of answers which will add up to a profitable business. And a business that isn’t profitable – and this includes the Guardian – is enfeebled and vulnerable.

Full blog post and comments at this link…

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