Tag Archives: paywall

YouTube announces its paid subscription model

YouTube has announced that it is now offering a new subscription model, only this time subscribers must pay a fee to view the content. People will pay as low as $0.99 a month to be able to access content from a select few channels, though YouTube says they will roll this out as a self-serve feature for many other partners in the future. Here is their release statement:

“Every channel has a 14-day free trial, and many offer discounted yearly rates. For example, Sesame Street will be offering full episodes on their paid channel when it launches. And UFC fans can see classic fights, like a full version of their first event from UFC’s new channel. You might run into more of these channels across YouTube. Once you subscribe from a computer, you’ll be able to watch paid channels on your computer, phone, tablet and TV, and soon you’ll be able to subscribe to them from more devices.”

 

This could turn into a very lucrative source of revenue for many content providers, if it is done right. Obviously if you are paying monthly you are going to want content on a regular basis, likely at least one video or more per month to make this subscription model worth it.

This could be very interesting for news networks that have YouTube shows as in the future they can start charging people for some of their more in depth reporting stories, but I am sure there will be much backlash from viewers who had previously been receiving the same content for free and now need to pay for it.

 

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Don’t wait too long to embrace digital advertising

According to an article on TheGlobeAndMail.com, The Vancouver Sun and The Province newspapers will offer their employees buyouts to deal with “unprecedented revenue declines,” a result of declining revenue from the newspapers’ declining revenue from print advertising. 

This news is the stark reality of the print side of journalism, and just how dangerous it can be if a newspaper does not make the shift fast enough to increasing revenue through the digital side of advertising such as paywalls or online donation model incentives for their readers.

These two papers are part of a chain from Postmedia Network Inc. The Province was founded in 1898 and has a print circulation near 144,000, while the Sun was founded in 1912 and does about 155,000 copies a day. Both newspapers rely heavily on print advertising as their sole source of revenue. Almost 70 percent of revenue at Postmedia’s 10 big-city newspapers comes from printed advertisements.

Both papers plan on making a strong push for online digital advertising, making the paywall model the primary means of increasing revenue. This still does not undermine the fact that many employees, of the 600 that exist across both papers, will still lose their jobs in an effort to keep the newspapers in business.

In my opinion it is important for stories like this to be brought to the attention of readers and journalists alike. This way the consumers can see the reality of how important it is to support your local newspapers and also for the business side of things because it shows just how real the bleak future of print journalism is becoming. Business can’t wait to long in making their transition to online advertising, or how important it is to bolster their ad revenue spending budget for this growing side of the industry.

 

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Wall Street Journal catering to shorter attention spans?

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The above graph was created by former Wall Street Journal writer, Dean Starkman, currently of the Columbia Journalism Review. His graph shows a steep decline starting in 2007 of long-form journalism, articles of 2,500 or more words, found in WSJ’s print publication. Despite it leaving out statistics from the website, it is safe to say that things probably look pretty similar on there too. 

It is interesting to note that 2007 is also when Rupert Murdoch took over the WSJ, so undoubtedly he had a heavy hand in the switch to shorter and more digestible news articles.

This is a quote from the WSJ shortly after this graph was released:

The number of words in an article has never been the barometer by which the quality of a publication or its value to readers should be measured. Every article is reported with unique facts and anecdotes that are needed to best tell the story. We consider those factors, while respecting our readers’ busy lives, when determining the length of an article. Our very strong circulation numbers suggest that readers think we’re doing a good job.

 

It’s hard to say how much of an impact the site’s paywall model has on the decline of longer articles. Perhaps they are finding increased subscription rates by catering to the business side of news by offering articles that can be read quickly back to back with only the most important facts and details being analyzed. 

Another reason might be that long-form journalism requires much more time to produce. By limiting the amount of time that must be spent reporting a story, the writers of the WSJ are able to create more stories in quicker succession. This in turn also drives up the shareability of articles on social media sites, since more people are willing to read and share articles that don’t take a long time to digest.

 

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Flipboard 2.0 lets everyone create their own online personalized magazines

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Flipboard is a free app that originated on the iPad back in 2010 that let its users curate their Facebook and Twitter feeds into a digital magazine of sorts, similar to the website Pinterest. Now in 2012, this iPad and iPhone (Android support coming soon) app is making a huge expansion by allowing any of its users to create their own personalized magazines.

An article on The Guardian details why version 2.0 is potentially going to be a huge step forward for online journalism. On a recent post on the Flipboard blog, they tout that in the past two weeks over half-a-million users have created their very own digital magazines.

How the app works is it allows people to create a collection of their favorite articles, videos, pictures and whatever they find interesting, into an aesthetically pleasing digital magazine that other Flipboard users can subscribe to for free. Magazines range from very general topics such as political news down to specific fanzines that specialize in topics such as TV shows or antique collectibles.

What makes Flipboard 2.0 so significant from a business standpoint is the fact that any articles that users include in their magazines have a comment system, but when users comment on an article that same comment is also shared on the site it originated from. This drives potential traffic back to the originating site, which leads to more ad revenue.

Big publishers are showing interest in Flipboard, as evidenced in June 2012 when The New York Times allowed its paying subscribers to access their content through Flipboard. Ads are supported in the app for larger publishers to make some ad revenue. According to the article on The Guardian, Flipboard is also looking into doing paid subscriptions for its publishers. By keeping some content free and the rest behind a paywall-like system, Flipboard hopes to drive one click subscription plans into their repertoire. This is all plans for the future forever, for now Flipboard hopes to focus on its current estimated 50 million users in their new push for user generated magazines.

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It’s Time To Pay Up! (or Donate instead)

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The biggest priority of any local news site is most likely driving revenue in order to stay in business. Many local news sites run solely on ad revenue through banner ads. Cluttering up their pages with sometimes distracting advertisements might bring in the money they need to stay afloat, but is this the best way to keep local news sites around in the future?

The New York Times has shown that a paywall model is more beneficial then ever, and are trying their best to close loopholes around this method. Forcing their readers to pay in order to read their content is a way to not only drive revenue, but also reduce the amount of annoying ads. This in turn also drives up newspaper circulation, making the ads that do appear on the site more and more appealing to advertisers.

But how does the business model of a paywall apply to a local or hyperlocal news site? Their readership is often a fraction of big sites like The New York Times, so how do they justify such a   move? I would like to think of a paywall on a local news site instead as a “donor wall.” Most smaller independent news sites probably can’t afford to lock out a large portion of their content to their readers. The reason is because they would likely lose their readership as people move over to another, just as credible, local news site for free. By making the paywall more like a donation, local news sites can provide extra content to their readers without sacrificing existing stories and content.

Think of it this way: what if instead of paying $5 a month for the privilege of a no article limit, you instead pay a one time donation of $50. This donation would include benefits such as exclusive reader interaction with the news company in the form of exclusive online Q&A’s and chats, significantly less ads visible on the site and heck, even a t-shirt for good measure.

In an ever-changing landscape for online news, especially for local and hyperlocal news outlets, there has never been a better time to start thinking outside of the box about potential ways to drive revenue online.

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