Newspapers are continuing to struggle with the shift of consumer attention from the traditional printed format to the online world. To cope with shrinking revenues, some publishers have started to charge for their online content. Will the pay wall drive away readers and therefore, marketers, or can the new business model work for publishers who need both subscription and advertising revenues to survive?
Researchers at the University of Missouri recently completed a survey which indicates that smaller newspaper publishers may be leading the way in the industry transition. For newspapers with circulation of under 25,000, 46% now charge for some of their content. But only 24% of larger newspapers, those with circulation over 25,000, charge for online content. The survey also found that over 2/3’s of publishers say consumers will pay for content. As a result, plans are in the works to charge for content:
- In the next 12 months: 35%
- Will charge at some point: 50%
However, the revenue generated from the online subscriptions is expected to grow slowly. Within a year, only 33% believe they’ll earn 20% of digital revenue from this source.
But the focus on other digital revenue is growing. In the next 3 years, nearly 2/3’s of newspapers say that the digital revenue stream will account for 15% of the total. To get there, many newspapers are rolling out mobile and tablet apps to attract consumer attention. Another survey finding shows that nearly 2/3’s (62%) of newspapers with circulation over 25,000 have mobile apps and 33% have tablet apps.
Mike Jenner, writing for the Reynolds Journalism Institute, notes, “Publishers who expect the most dramatic shift in the revenue mix from print to digital also happen to have a mobile phone app in the field.”[Source: Jenner, Mike. Small papers lead the way in charging for online content. RJIOnline.org. 31 May 2011. Web. 17 Jun. 2011]