Johnston Press, a newspaper based in Scotland, dropped its paywall after a three-month trial.The paper charged online readers 5 pounds (about $7.59) for a three-month subscription. Paying users of their local sites would be to read beyond their homepage, and have access to all of their articles beyond short excerpts.
One staffer told Hold The Front Page blog it was a “disaster.” Subscribers were in the “single figures” for one of their local sites. And in the “low double figures” at another, according to the Press Gazette.
The paper’s local news titles paid subscriptions were down sales, some by more than 8%, according to the Guardian. But web traffic was up. One problem: Advertisers weren’t buying enough online ads. Johnston Press’ overall ad revenues were way down.
In November, CEO John Fry got wrapped up in Rupert Murdoch’s crusade for paid content: “Having examined JP’s traffic, the most valuable comes from loyal users. Those who come to JP from search engines tend to come from a sensationalist angle, and are therefore are not as valuable from an advertising point of view.”
But those paid subscribers simply didn’t sign up.
Rupert Murdoch might want to pay attention to this mess. News Corp (NWS) is putting up paywalls on the Sunday Times and The Times sites in June. The New York Times (NYT) has a metered model coming in 2011.
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