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BizReport : Blogs & Content archives : July 07, 2010

Is Gannett's paywall test the answer for newspaper revenue problems?

Over the holiday weekend, newspaper company Gannett tested a paywall on three local newspapers. People logging on to The Greenville (South Carolina) News, The Spectrum (St. George, Utah) and The Tallahassee Democrat were presented with a new $9.95 monthly subscription rather for online-only access to headlines and information.

by Kristina Knight

gannett.jpgThose who already have print subscriptions with Gannett Company newspaperswere presented with different rates depending on their location.

Why the test? Newspaper print subscription revenues have been steadily declining for several years; as newspaper publishers scramble to find ways to regain the lost revenue paywalls have become an option. Several studies show that consumers are willing to pay for online content as long as the content is unique in some way.

In the UK, the Sunday Times and sister newspaper The Times have launched paywalls for their content. Several other newspaper organizations, both in the US and across the globe, have begun testing paywalls.

It is, of course, too early to determine if the soft test is the answer for the Gannett Company or other publishers.

The key for pay-for-content models is the way the content and subscriptions are marketed. As those post studies indicate, consumers who pay for a subscription expect to get 'more' than the typical crime beat reports and news-of-the-day offerings from their local papers. Other studies which show that consumers will not pay for online content.

In January the Harris Poll and AdWeek Media released results which showed that 77% of respondents would not pay for online content. Of the 19% willing to pay-to-read, the max price per month was found to be $10.

Tags: AdWeekMedia, content marketing, Gannett Company, Harris Poll, newspapers, online content, paid content, pay for content

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