Variety.com, the website of Variety and owned by Reed Business, is repeating history and hoping it turns out better this time. It has announced plans of going behind a paywall starting tomorrow. Taking some inspiration for a hybrid pay model from FT.com, here are the mechanics as it explains it:
— After clicking on two pages on Variety.com, one in 10 randomly selected visitors will be prompted to register for further access.
— Nonsubscribers may access only five pages of content in any given month.
— Introductory sub rate if $248 per year, for which users get access to all Variety products, including the print editions of Daily Variety and weekly Variety, as well as Variety.com and Digital Variety (their e-edition).
— Content unaffected by the paywall includes the home page, headlines, brief article summaries and search results.
This is a revert back to pay model for Variety.com, which dismantled its wall only in early 2007, and while dismantling it then, didn’t have great words for it. Now with its own situation a lot more dire, and tough competition from new upstarts, hard to see how they could make it work.
Tameka adds: I asked Variety Group President Neil Stiles “why now?” Particularly since, as Rafat notes, the company gave up on it once before.
“Why not now?” he said. “We have a very specific audience, so we haven’t suffered circulation attrition in proportion to the rest of the landscape — but that could change next year, two years down the line, if we keep giving content away for free. We want to build up a habit of people paying for online content in the same way that they pay for offline.”
— One size fits all: “We don’t want to force readers to decide how they want to consume Variety’s content. We want them to pay us once and get it on whichever platform.” That said, Stiles did say that the company would be beta-testing the implementation for “at least a few months;” the better to deliver the most useful interface, and possibly figure out the ideal price-point.
— Print vs. digital: Stiles wouldn’t break down Variety’s print vs. digital revs; he said the company sold advertisers “completely integrated” packages, and had been doing so since last year.
— On de-indexing from Google: Not gonna happen. “Of course we’ve heard the rumblings, but unlike some of the others in the industry, less than 25 percent of our traffic comes from search,” he said. So it’s not worth the effort to de-index.