Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Paywalls | Can GCI's plan buoy company revenues?

From a new post today on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog:

The challenge for most local and regional papers with paywalls is bringing in new readers, who are getting their news elsewhere. And most people signing up for digital subscriptions are older readers, says media analyst Ken Doctor.

“I haven’t heard of any regional paper that produces substantial digital only customer numbers and revenue numbers,” Doctor said. These are problems that point to whether paywalls can have long term success for locally focused journalism.


  1. Feb. pageviews for one of the original paywall papers:
    Down ~10% from Jan. 2012.
    Down ~20% from Feb. 2011.
    (Paywalls were established in June 2010, so that's a fair comparison.)

    Who's accountable for such awful numbers? Is corporate even watching?

    I don't need to hire a blue-ribbon panel to do a study that concludes: readers won't pay for filler. This paper is Exhibit A in that regard.

  2. Most sites have not had paywalls or subscription models up for extended periods of time (and certainly not at the community level). And most newspapers have done a poor job of digital bundling and marketing. All due respect to Doctor, it's far too early to declare failure. And the models are generating revenue where there wasn't revenue before. If the expectation is that the subscription model on the Web is going to cure all the economic ills, that's just plain unrealistic. It is a strategy that will grow and evolve over time.

  3. Keep in mind that any subscription revenue (digital OR print delivery) pales in comparison to advertising revenue.
    The business model needed to make up the loss of revenue from print ads to online tiles and banners is still elusive.
    That is what the future of newspapers (in whatever format) hinges upon.


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