Blog Post

Paywall Sceptics Are Wrong: Salvation Lays In Experimentation

Evan Rudowski is CEO of subscription-content platform SubHub, a former European MD for [email protected] and once managed online at Newsday, the NY newspaper whose website recently got only 35 paying subscribers in three months.


This article originally appeared in SubHub.

8 Responses to “Paywall Sceptics Are Wrong: Salvation Lays In Experimentation”

  1. As a normal non journalist (as many seem to be on this post) maybe quality newspapers like FT or Reuters can get away with paywalls and paid content,but in general I think revenue seeking paywalls will be like trying to search for water in a dessert.We are all awash with information;we are swimming in so much of the stuff we are drowning in it on a daily basis.
    The blurring of lines between journalists and bloggers,whats the difference?I am afraid that the golden age of journalism is over,but good luck to you all,just keep your CV’s up to date.

  2. Catherine

    I checked alexa and noted that The Times saw their number of hits drop by 25% yesterday, whereas picked up by 35%. I would have thought that the advertising space would be at a premium on sites that have more traffic, I would also have thought that talented general media journalists would want a larger audience. I agree that certain specialist publications can charge for their content, but I don’t think that The Times falls into that category.

  3. Terry Purvis


    There isn’t a way forward for “on-line media” in it’s current form and that includes the so-called new media. Just Google Clay Shirky – it save you wasting your time on a pointless exercise..

  4. Hi guys,

    Im doing a paper: Is paid for content the way forward for online media?

    You guys seem to know all about it, perhaps a few tips would help me get started if you can spare the time.

    Very interesting debate btw


  5. Of course availability of free alternative is a determining factor. Even in your example you go on to talk about Jancis Robinson’s “unique” expertise. If it’s unique people will pay. if not, then probably not, even if all the other factors are in place.

    Much of the bombast about paywalls is generated because businesses are doing them very badly. They do not focus on, or even analyse value. They certainly don’t really consider how that value is delivered. Instead they tend to rely on an introspective view of their place in the world and get somewhat surprised that this doesn’t translate to the wider digital universe.

    We don’t believe that the newspaper industry is incapable of producing something that people will pay for – we just tend to believe that it probably isn’t news. Where newspaper executives (and many magazine publishers) are failing is new product development and understanding value propositions.

  6. jackthorogood

    We recently launched our paywall / micropayments platform for video ( and conversion rates seem to be IRO 10% at the moment. This depends largely on the type of content of course; we’ve yet to get deep learnings from the news space. My personal opinion is that it’s not going to be the ‘quality’ of the content but the relevance to viewers that makes them pay; that and the content’s scarcity of course.

    That local news site with its grainy video about a local charity could be the sort of thing that emerges as a winner. The glossy news site which covers the same stories as might not.

  7. Carolyn Morgan

    Agree wholeheartedly that targeted content is worth paying for – see my post on what I think the triggers are here: I also think that a hybrid model of free content for marketing and some premium services is the way forward for publishers – more details here: I’m speaking in one of the paid content seminars at Publishing Expo on Thursday at 2.45pm; do come along if you are there, or here are my slides at