Penny Crossland Paywalls galore, but will they succeed?
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By Penny Crossland

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Newspaper and other media publishers in the US have been suffering more and longer from the economic downturn than their UK counterparts and have been struggling to come up with ideas to reverse their slump in revenues. Livewire has reported on plans to introduce paywalls by some publishers (see Nancy Davis Kho’s posting on the New York Times’ metered model approach http://www.vivavip.com/go/e27802), now a recent article from Business Insider caught my eye. According to Business Insider (http://digbig.com/5bbnba) several publications, which may be of interest to information professionals are changing their access models, i.e. introducing charges in some form or other. Online video service Hulu (http://www.hulu.com), which offers commercial-supported streaming of TV shows and movies, has decided to charge users a monthly access fee, after they have viewed five free shows. This payment plan is to start at the end of May. Advertising Age (http://adage.com), a resource I have found very useful for marketing statistics and rankings, has changed its free access to non-subscribers. Until last week, the site’s users had access to articles up to seven days after being posted on the site. Now, non-subscribers only have access to three stories in a 24 hour period. According to Business Insider, beleaguered ABC News (http://www.abcnews.go.com) is also planning to introduce some kind of paywall by the summer and is considering charging for blogs and other content. The New Republic (http://www.tnr.com) is introducing three premium plans, one of which includes a subscription to the TNR Society. Local news too, is not immune from changing access models: The Massachussetts newspaper Worcester Telegram & Gazette (http://www.telegram.com), owned by the New York Times, is introducing a day pass for non-subscribers. Whether all these metered models lead to increased revenues remains to be seen. In the UK, News International publications will be introducing their own version of a paywall soon (see http://www.vivavip.com/go/e28452 and http://www.vivavip.com/go/e27766). Interestingly, paidcontent (http://digbig.com/5bbnay) reported yesterday that The Times and The Sun online have suddenly stopped publishing their online user numbers. They must be getting worried about letting the public know how many readers stay away from their sites after June.

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