Written by Media

Good Luck With Those Paywalls

That title sounds a bit insincere. But I really do mean it. Because, to work, they’re going to need some luck!
In the last twenty-four hours, both the Telegraph and The Sun have announced the raising of paywalls on their sites. This wasn’t unexpected.
The Telegraph had been experimenting with its overseas users for a while and claims to have converted quite a few people. They’re going for the metered model allowing readers up to 20 articles a month before they have to pay up to read on. The Telegraph really led the way in the early days of the web, but somehow never held onto that lead. The price is quite low, and I wish them good luck. I’m not sure it’ll work especially well as I don’t see Telegraph readers as being digital evangelists despite that early lead. But we’ll have to wait and see.
What I do know is that I’m not paying for digital only access for any paper that hasn’t got a proper Android tablet version of their app. The Telegraph’s offer will include access to the paper via its smartphone apps, but it’s tablet apps that are important for newspapers. And that means more than the iPad. If you think you can succeed digitally, but not serve the needs of Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 owners, then good luck to you. You’ll need it.
The Sun’s announcement wasn’t surprising. They spent a lot of money on digital rights to Premier League highlights as part of a News Internatioanl buy, and those rights begin in August. There’s no way they handed over millions of pounds just to give those rights away free.
On the other hand, I’m unconvinced that access to them is enough to get people to hand over cash. The goals appear on Match of the Day, Sky Sports, news programmes, and from next season, the iPlayer. The ESPN Goals app on mobile has been a nice freebie, but I’d never pay for it.
But The Sun faces a bigger problem. A lot of broadsheet papers complain that the existence of the BBC’s online offering means that they struggle. I’m afraid The Sun has a different problem – and it’s the Mail Online. It’s become, somehow, a world leading entertainment news portal, and as such has camped right on The Sun’s turf.
I really don’t know how The Sun is going to make a success of a subscription offering when the more popular site is free.