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Newsday’s paywall nets 35 subscribers

I reported earlier that Newsday’s website was going behind a paywall. The site was free for those that used the patent company’s cable services, otherwise one needed to buy a subscription. Three months later the number of subscriber is 35.

So, three months later, how many people have signed up to pay $5 a week, or $260 a year, to get unfettered access to newsday.com?

The answer: 35 people. As in fewer than three dozen. As in a decent-sized elementary-school class.

That is surprisingly low. For that market, you’d think it would be higher.

Community Comments

#1 Stephen Beals
January/27/2010
@ 10:49 am

Mom? Dad? My company wants us to get family members to subscribe to our website. Will one of you do that, you know, to help us out? Oh. Well, thanks anyway ….

#2 Nick Anderson
January/27/2010
@ 11:07 am

Um…wow.

#3 Bryan Young
January/27/2010
@ 11:13 am

And this is surprising anyone?

#4 Steve Skelton
January/27/2010
@ 11:39 am

This is a shame. Information is just too free now. No real reason to pay for news. News is free now. It is like trying to put the lid on one of those cans of springy worms.

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when they were all around the board room (any paper, not just Newsday) when they had the idea to put their content on line for free. Just what were they thinking???? I realize they felt compelled to do what other papers were doing online, but geeze, talk about bad business decisions. This entire trend of offering free content literally brought down (is bringing down) an entire industry and all those associated with it.

It’s a shame.

#5 Steve Skelton
January/27/2010
@ 11:44 am

The only real way to remedy this is if all news organizations worked together to simultaneously start charging for content.

#6 Bryan Young
January/27/2010
@ 11:50 am

@Steve Skelton But will it make a difference? Not really. You would still have people going to CNN or Fox or god forbid, blogs! And we both know that there are camps out there that will post news for free.

#7 Steve Skelton
January/27/2010
@ 12:02 pm

Yes, but if professionals in the field all agreed to start charging, then you would see a discrepance between professional news sites and those that aren’t. Right now, the quality of journalism is eroding. Last week I read a CNN article that had quite a few errors. Once this cycle runs its course, you will find that free news is really not very reliable, and the journalistic standards that we once enjoyed will be gone.

I am not in any way saying there is a way to reverse this trend. Just thought I would throw out a far fetched idea like the universal charging of news. Most likely, it is too late already.

#8 Steve Skelton
January/27/2010
@ 12:04 pm

And of course, the old “copy and paste” command will be the undoing of us all. Even if sites start charging for news, there is little way to combat this…

#9 Jason Nocera
January/27/2010
@ 12:10 pm

It’s also free for those who already have a newspaper subscription.

How were they expecting to gain new readers?

BTW – one problem with going behind a paywall is that you lose traffic generated through natural search. That’s substantial traffic.

#10 Tony Piro
January/27/2010
@ 12:11 pm

I guess they need to charge more.

#11 Howard Tayler
January/27/2010
@ 12:16 pm

$260/yr is absurdly high. Sure, it may be reasonable compared to the newsstand price of a newspaper, but it’s an order of magnitude too high for the market to take it seriously.

#12 Steve Skelton
January/27/2010
@ 12:17 pm

“Itâ??s also free for those who already have a newspaper subscription.

How were they expecting to gain new readers?”

Well, those reading their news for free online would be forced to buy a subscription if they want to continue doing so.

“BTW â?? one problem with going behind a paywall is that you lose traffic generated through natural search. Thatâ??s substantial traffic.”

Jason, that is one of the myths of today. Traffic to your site does not translate into revenue unless there are ads on your site. Ads on a newspaper site are not enough to support a newsroom full of professionals. That is just what got them into this. Wanting to get traffic to their site, but never thinking about how that translates into revenue to support the business.

#13 Ted Rall
January/27/2010
@ 12:49 pm

Newsday isn’t any good. That’s the problem with charging for it.

They have a monopoly in print on Long Island.

To me, the ability of a crappy paper to sell in print proves the strength of the medium–people like the medium so much they’ll pay for a bad version of it.

#14 Grant Halis
January/27/2010
@ 3:54 pm

Also all cable subscribers in the area get it for free.

#15 Clay Jones
January/28/2010
@ 12:42 pm

The entire news industry can thank Newsday for this experiment.

#16 Bryan Senka
January/28/2010
@ 3:32 pm

I’m surprised anyone thinks a paywall is a valid business model for web content. Creators may value content, but consumers do not. Consumers value objects.

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