Photo: PaidContent paidcontent.org
Here’s some more bad news for newspapers hoping to rescue themselves by slapping up paywalls. Joseph Tartakoff of PaidContent surveyed local newspapers all across the country to figure out how many of them had paywalls and how many online-only subscribers the ones with paywalls had.
Not many. Of either.
Joseph found 24 local papers with paywalls.
Between them, they had about 10,000 online-only subscribers (our maths, adding estimates for the papers that didn’t report any information).
Eyeballing the list of monthly subscription prices (online only), it seems the average monthly online-only price is about $10, or $120 a year.
This suggests that the total online subscription revenue for all the local newspapers in the country is about $1.2 million. (Throw in another few million for papers Joseph might have missed and let’s say the total number is $5-$10 million.)
That’s not going to save a lot of newspapers.
Now, there’s something else to consider here, which is protecting the value to the paper-based subscription and advertising business by not giving the whole thing away online free. As long as local papers continue to print stuff that people want to read, and as long as people can’t read it for free online, and as long as some other free online competitor doesn’t come into town and provide the same information, people will probably keep ponying up for the paper-based paper.
So that might save some newspapers. For a while. But it’s not much of a growth business.
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