Peering over paywalls
by Tom Keighley
The paywall has become the preoccupation of the media industry. I recently came across some research from global pricing specialists, Simon-Kucher & Partners, that suggested two thirds of media companies they surveyed expected the ‘free content era’ to come to an end.
Is this what media companies hope for, or what they need? The paywall debate seems to revolve around newspaper companies as they use the function for a two-fold purpose: to stem the decline of print circulations, and to monetise digital content.
As there is such a high volume of available online content, unless the readership is particularly niche, it’s likely that outlets could slip behind a paywall without their audience following. This article from the Telegraph, which looks at all digital media including music and film, argues that users have been “spoilt” with nearly fifteen years worth of free content. All true; and it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reverse the trend.
Some have succeeded in the paywall foray. Over 300 US newspapers have made the change, and some, such as community newspaper publisher Gannet Co, have reported increasing circulation revenues. Of course, readership buoyancy dynamics will vary between traditional print media with new digital components and new digital-only media.
Bdaily is not disappearing behind a paywall, not least because a sizeable portion of the content created by the business community. We’re keen not to establish barriers for people who want to read local and national business news, as well as opinion and advice. It’s important for us not to discourage younger readers from consuming Bdaily too. For these reasons, our focus is on improving accessibility across mobile devices and providing personalised content.
We want to create a business news platform with a legacy, and not one that sacrifices accessibility for profit.