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It’s been a big week in newspapers starting to charge for content. First it was Gannett; now the Los Angeles Times will launch a metered pay…

LA Times / Los Angeles Times / L.A. Times
photo: Flickr / Rob Oxley

It’s been a big week in newspapers starting to charge for content. First it was Gannett; now the Los Angeles Times will launch a metered paywall on Monday, March 5.

The paper announced the changes today. Website visitors will be able to read 15 stories per month for free before the paywall kicks in. They will be charged an introductory rate of 99 cents for the first four weeks; thereafter, the paper will charge $1.99 per week for a website-plus-Sunday-print-edition package and $3.99 per month for website access only. The LA Times says the digital subscription also includes “retail discounts, deals and giveaways.”

Kathy Thomson, president and COO of the LA Times Media Group, says the company “priced the digital subscription with the Sunday newspaper at a lower rate because they are complementary products.”

Access to the paper’s website through mobile phones and tablets remains free for now, but that will change in the future.

In a cost-cutting move, a new weekly lifestyle section launching March 10, “Saturday,” will combine the health, food and home sections, and “those sections will phase out as stand-alone portions of the paper by March 3 but will remain available online.”

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the LAT has an average daily circulation of 572,998 (down 200,000 from two years ago, says the LAT) and the website has 34.8 million unique monthly visitors.

In its coverage of the changes, the LA Times includes some info on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which added a paywall last month: The paper has sold 8,800 digital subscriptions, 75 percent of those to customers who live outside the Milwaukee area but want Green Bay Packers coverage.

Gannett (NYSE: GCI) announced Wednesday that it hopes to earn $100 million by adding metered paywalls to the websites of all 80 of its papers except USA Today.

  1. If the L.A. Times thinks it is going to reap much in “metered” paywall revenue from the Internet, they’re sadly delusional — much like their strip-mall owner Sam Zell, who is desperate to squeeze every nickel he can out of his Tribune newspaper properties after taking the company “private” and then through bankruptcy over the last few years.  Too bad Zell couldn’t have the vision to think of an “advertiser-supported” model for L.A. Times online — just following Gannett and New York Times to the perceived “paywall” trough is not necessarily going to bring in much more revenue for the L.A. Times. 

    The next thing Zell will try to do is take all of the Tribune TV stations — such as KTLA-TV in Los Angeles and WGN-TV in Chicago — and try to make them subscriber-based “premium cable networks” to go up against HBO and Showtime.  Zell is to media what Nero was to Rome!

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  2. Congratulations, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has just brought in $422,000 of subscription revenue in a year. Why, in LA that number could be $2M. If that is enough to offset the losses in digital advertising, their reps are doing a lousy job of selling.

    Oh, and does anyone see the irony of referencing the appeal of a paywall’ed paper’s Green Bay Packers coverage, by a paper whose city can’t support an NFL team?

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    1. The JSO paywall has been up for less than two months. Not one year.

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