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300+ publications now use Press+ metered pay model

300+ publications now use Press+ metered pay model

RR Donnelley's Press+ announced today in a press release that 323 publications are now using its metered digital subscription model platform to generate online revenue, up from only 24 last year.

Press+, cofounded in 2009 by Stephen Brill and Gordon Crovitz and purchased by RR Donnelley in 2011, helps newspapers establish paid-content models by limiting the amount of free articles readers can access online from between 5-15 per month rather than using hard paywalls, according to the press release.

Numerous large US and Canadian newspaper companies, including McClatchy, Tribune Company and GateHouse Media, operate through Press+, the release stated.

Press+ said results of its metered model implementation have been generally positive, claiming advertising revenue either stayed the same or increased for most publications and that readership held steady, despite more limited access to articles.

“By asking their most engaged readers to pay for digital content, print publishers have built a high-margin, recurring revenue stream from digital subscriptions that will carry their businesses into the digital age,” the release said.

Brill said in the release, “Two years ago, publishers were asking if they should charge for content. Last year they began asking ‘How should I charge?’ We think we’ve been succeeding with our meter in supplying that answer, so now they’re increasingly asking, ‘Why did I wait so long?”

Press+ also said it has seen a positive consumer response to digital “bundles,” or subscription deals in which subscribers get full access to digital content on all platforms (online, iPad and mobile). Print subscribers can also opt into full digital access by paying slightly more for their print subscription, the press release said.

“What we now know is that publishers can create online reader revenue, while not losing any online advertising revenue,” Crovitz said in the release. “At the same time, they are strengthening their print franchises by offering print-online bundles and by eliminating the completely free alternative to print. This is the year when it will become the rule and no longer the exception that news brands charge for access online.”

Bill Mitchell, Head of Entrepreneurial and International Programs at the Poynter Institute, previously told Editors Weblog that he feels the flexible metered model is not only better for casual news consumers but also for the publishers themselves. 

“I think the so-called ‘leaky’ wall is the best bet as opposed to a hard wall,” he said. “With an emerging business model like this, flexibility is really critical and the metered or ‘leaky’ wall enables flexibility across many fronts. It enables the publisher to shape the terms of the two fundamental experiences that it offers to its customers: the paid experience and the free experience.”

Even strict adherers to the hard paywall model, such as The Times of London, are examining more flexible approaches such as increasing sharing capabilities of subscribers to their own networks, as we previously reported

The New York Times, which has seen great success with its 20-article metered paywall, reduced the number of free online articles to 10 at the beginning of April, as previously reported. Although the article reduction could be viewed as a step towards a hard paywall, it seems more likely the move is a strategy to determine the willingness of more casual users to pay for content.

According to the press release, Press+ has been experimenting with consumer willingness to pay as well, focusing on print subscribers who pay extra money for all-inclusive digital and print bundles.

As Press+ continues to attract more and more news publishers, it seems safe to say that metered models are becoming increasingly accepted as an effective transition for online readers from unpaid to paid content.

Sources: Press+



Gianna Walton


2012-04-02 17:10

Shaping the Future of the News Publishing

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