This morning I’ve been reading about how some of the news sites which require readers to pay for a subscription are faring. Funnily enough the article is published on paidContent.org – website that doesn’t charge for subscriptions.
The first newspaper has 670 subscribers paying $2.95 per week and lost 40% of their traffic in the first 3 weeks of requiring a subscription. At current rates the model is bringing in just $102,778 per year which isn’t going to be enough to cover the cost of 2 people to run the site.
The best quote comes from the Newport Daily News:
Publisher Buck Sherman told us that the goal was to â€œdrive people back to the printed paperâ€ and not to bring in online revenue. He says that so far â€œwe have done well,â€ adding that single-copy sales are up 8 percent. Website traffic is down by about 30 percent since the paper began to charge, according to Compete figures.
An equally backward view comes from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
Publisher Walter Hussman told the Guardian that the Democrat-Gazette charges in order to drive newsstand sales. The paperâ€™s average daily paid circulation is down about 1 percent since it put up its pay wall. Revenue from online subscription sales amounts to only about $200,000 a year.
How can these local sites be so badly run? If a local newspaper was to carry out some SEO and then charge 1000 local businesses Â£100 per month each to advertise on the site and on relevant landing pages that would be Â£1.2 million per year in revenue for doing very little work. Surely somebody should be explaining this?