Paywalls: Do They Work?

Written by on January 6, 2013 in Technology - No comments | Print this page



For several years, the Internet has been the primary place to read the news. Online publications offer the convenience and interactivity that print newspapers never could. As a result, the traditional newspaper has largely fallen out of fashion.

In response to rapidly falling subscription figures, traditional newspapers have shifted many of their operations out of print and onto the Internet. However, they’ve encountered yet another problem. While online publications are popular, they are also usually free to read. To remedy this problem, many online papers have introduced “paywalls”. A paywall requires readers to buy a subscription in order to read an online newspaper’s articles in full. The first online paper to implement this paywall system was the New York Times, and many other American newspapers have followed its lead.

While the paywall system seems to have worked for the Times, it hasn’t been an unqualified success. Many newspapers with smaller readerships that have implemented paywalls have seen a sharp decline in traffic. The evidence suggests that unless a newspaper has a large and dedicated readership, putting up a paywall will merely drive readers away and towards more attractive options.

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