The Independent newspaper has redesigned its website, introduced a metered charging system for North American readers and launched a free trial of what will be a £19.99 ($32.19)-a-month iPad edition.
The meter is reported to be facilitated by RR Donnelley’s Press+ system and, according to recent reports, will allow for 20 free articles per month, rising to a charge of $6.99 (£4.34) per month for full access.
The paper’s iPad edition has also launched initially for a free period but will soon cost a hefty £19.99 ($32.19) per month to readings including those at home in the UK.
All three elements of the new strategy have challenges…
- Website: Some readers responding to online editor Chris Blackhurst’s welcome note say they don’t like the website redesign, which has a sort of classic news site feel.
- Fees: 62 percent of Independent.co.uk unique browsers are outside the UK, of which the paper is reportedly targeting a “couple of hundred thousand” North Americans who currently read more than 20 articles per month. Converting all of that target pool could yield $1.4 (£0.87) million per month.
- iPad: Most of all, the £19.99 ($32.19)-per-month iPad fee is double the rate which is being set as the industry standard by the likes of The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian. If a paper whose average print circulation has fallen to just 176,983 is, like others, looking to iPad post-print salvation, it is making it hard for all but the most loyal existing Independent readers to buy in.