Global Journalist

Breaking down the paywall

Metered Paywall: The New York Times
How it works: The New York Times launched its second paywall experiment in March 2011, after their first attempt, dubbed “Times Select,” flopped .

Under the new system, online readers may access up to 20 articles per month for free. After that, they are asked to pay $3.75 per week for unlimited online access and a smartphone app or slightly more for a tablet app. Print subscribers are offered a reduced online rate.

Although the paywall is extremely porous and readers are able to work their way around it if they wish to, several loyal readers are paying for the value they see in the product.

In addition, online subscriptions that include a Sunday print edition (popular with advertisers) are available for the same price as an online-only subscription, further helping along the Times’ bottom line.

But is it successful? So far, so good. The newspaper said it had more than 100,000 subscribers just three weeks after launching and 224,000 by the end of July. The new system has also reportedly slowed the hemorrhaging of the paper’s print subscriptions.

National Paywall: Piano Media’s Slovakia Experiment
How it works: The Slovakian media all held hands and jumped together. This experiment, which represents first nationwide paywall, launched in May and was spearheaded by Piano Media, a Bratislava tech company. Subscribers pay €2.90 (US$4.18) a month or €29 a year for full access to the websites of nine of Slovakia’s most popular news sites. Revenue is then divided among outlets based on where readers spend their time minus 30% for the overall company.

But is it successful? Maybe. Piano Media reported netting over €40,000 (U.S. $53,872) within the first month, and says that its subscription rate is still growing. Publishers participating in the project are putting more and more of their content behind the paywall, while the company says that they are already looking into expanding into other linguistically-isolated markets.

Ironclad Paywall: Mediapart

How it works: All content is put behind a paywall. Mediapart doesn't rely on advertising at all; revenue comes only from the subscriptions.

But is it working? It is starting to. Mediapart launched in 2008, providing quality, in-depth investigative reporting and breaking news stories. So far, 2011 is their first profitable year, with € 500,000 (US$673,400) in profits and 60,000 subscribers.

Combination: The Boston Globe (and
How does it work? In a new experiment that will only go behind a paywall starting October 1, the newspaper has created one paid website,, to run alongside its free site, The paid site will feature more in-depth newspaper articles while the free site will host breaking news and briefs.

But is it working? Stay tuned…

-Stories about successful examples of the metered model from small, local papers

- Other profitable vs. unprofitable experiences

- Columbia Daily Tribune’s metered model seems to be working, as well

-The U.S.' Future version of Piano Media?

- My Press Plus manages online subscriptions for readers and works with publishers to develop an online payment strategy and system

Google Pass


- New variants

- Berkeley professor’s blog on digital media, several related posts

-News on the future of journalism

- Timeline of several earlier paywall experiments

- Mike Jenner: Small Papers Lead the way in Charging for online content

-Paywall models: Lessons Learned

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