New York Times cheerleaders and other fans of paywalls should take note of the plight of nearby Newsday.
Newsday went behind a paywall for non-subscribers three months ago, They revealed this week that since then, they’d netted only 35 online-only subscribers. Ouch.
Newsday was banking on their local news coverage being so important to online readers that they’d eagerly pay to access it even though there’s plenty of (free) competition in the NYC/NJ area.. Their redesign made it possible for non-subscribers to see article excerpts, then they’d have to pay $5 per week to read whole stories.
Because of the low adoption rate so far, the web traffic to Newsday’s site has, predictable, plummeted. According to their Nielsen Online analytics, the site’s page views dropped 30% from October to December, meaning that any non-subscription revenue earned from online advertising is taking a plunge.
Their editors don’t seem to mind – they say it wasn’t about numbers and subscribers, but rather about protecting their brand from freeloaders and offering a ‘premium” product to loyal subscribers. While that’s noble and gutsy, it doesn’t create any new form of revenue to fund an online product. Food for thought, I suppose.