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Newspaper Association of America press conference suggests sunny outlook for paid content

Newspaper Association of America press conference suggests sunny outlook for paid content

Is paid content worth more than newspapers are currently selling it for? Several US publishers who spoke at a Newspaper Association of America press conference seem to think so, Poynter reported.

Gannett President of US Publishing Bob Dickey said at the conference that he projects Gannett’s paid digital newspaper subscriptions will be worth $100 million in 2013, according to Poynter.

Gannett conducted marketing research that led the company to decide in favor of paywalls, which were implemented at 80 Gannett papers this year, the article said. According to Dickey’s description of the research finding, “Readers value our content at a higher price than they pay,” the article said.

Dickey also said that Gannett may need to enhance its digital content in order to sustain paid subscriptions, which could mean the hiring of additional "content creators," the article said.

Another meeting attendee, Dallas Morning News CEO and Publisher Jim Moroney agreed that the time might be right for publishers to add content instead of eliminating online resources, the article said. Moroney will serve as the next NAA chairman, according to a press release.

As previously reported by News & Tech, The Dallas Morning News launched its paywall in March of 2011, charging $16.95 per month for complete digital access.

“It's my belief that a durable business needs two things: a sustainable competitive advantage and something that's differentiated,” Moroney told News & Tech in 2011. “The advantage that a local newspaper company has is the breadth and depth of its reporting based on the scale of its newsroom. If you keep scaling down the newsroom so that it's on par with, say, a local television news operation, you lose your competitive advantage in the marketplace and your reporting won't be differentiated from local television news reporting. You're leveling the playing field for your competitors. And that's generally not a good thing to do.”

Though the consensus seems to be that digital subscriptions can help to sustain business, not all paywalls function in the same way. Though some newspapers enforce strict paywalls, others use metered models which allow users access to a certain number of articles while restricting premium content.

As we previously reported, over 300 publications now use the Press+ metered model platform, including newspapers owned by McClatchy, Tribune, and Gatehouse Media, according to a press release. Press+ reported that readership among most digital publications remained largely the same despite access to fewer online articles, which could be an indicator that metered paywalls have great potential to secure more digital subscribers without losing much of an online base.

There are, of course, several news organizations, such as the online-only Huffington Post, that eschew paywalls completely, relying instead on other means to raise revenue. If paid models such as Gannett’s live up to their revenue projections, however, it will be interesting to see whether digital paywalls, metered or otherwise, become the norm.   

Sources: Poynter, NAA, News & Tech


Gianna Walton


2012-04-10 12:45

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