USA Today Plans To Charge For E-Paper Version; Site To Remain Free

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imageIn August, Gannett’s USA Today will begin charging readers for an electronic version of the paper that will be delivered via e-mail, AP reported. The price will be “slightly less” than the print addition, which is $1 for a newsstand copy. Print subscriptions range from $190.00 for 52 weeks ($0.73 per issue) to $52.00 for 13 weeks ($0.80 per issue).

The announcement was made by David Hunke, who became USAT’s publisher in April. He said that while the company will be looking for other avenues where it can charge for its news, would remain free. However, he suggested that consumers might be willing to pay for mobile news, such as USAT’s iPhone app. Hunke didn’t say whether there were any plans in place regarding its iPhone content offering. Although it remains the largest newspaper in the U.S. by circulation, over the past few months, USAT has had to deal with wage freezes and unpaid furloughs and the loss of its hotel-subscription business. Meanwhile, Gannett’s Q1 earnings report showed that USAT’s ad revenues fell 33 percent.

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Bill Battle

Barry Diller in his recent comments, could very well be correct in stating that premium online content never should have been free, but USA Today's plans to charge for an electronic version could still be premature.

Not until the day comes (and it won't be long) where inexpensive mobile devices with reasonable reading screens are ubiquitous, will we mind paying for a digital 'USA Today.'

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