Paying for content

  • 1
  • September 3, 2009
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

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 – 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 “drive people back to the printed paper” and not to bring in online revenue. He says that so far “we have done well,” 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 paper’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 £100 per month each to advertise on the site and on relevant landing pages that would be £1.2 million per year in revenue for doing very little work. Surely somebody should be explaining this?