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Digital subscription service Press+ adds tool to help publishers monetize video

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Digital subscription platform Press+, which helps publishers add metered paywalls to their websites, launched a new tool on Wednesday that aims to help monetize video.

Unlike the Press+ article meter, which lets publishers specify a certain number of stories that readers can access free before they are asked to pay up, the Press+ video meter lets viewers watch a video for a few minutes before they’re asked to pay. The first publisher to use the tool is Courtroom View Network, a service that streams trials online.

Press+ cofounder Steve Brill told The Wrap that the videos likely to work best for this are longer ones “with some kind of narrative arc” and that “the way to get people into video stories is to let them watch it for a little while.”

Many publishers are experimenting with video, but so far the trend has been toward keeping it free. The New York Times, for instance, lifted its paywall on all video content earlier this year. “Part of the reason we’re doing this is because we’re already distributing on other channels like YouTube (s GOOG),” NYT EVP Denise Warren told my colleague Jeff Roberts at the time, “Since it’s already available…it seems inconsistent to keep it behind the gate.”

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post’s streaming video network, HuffPost Live, racked up 445 million views and over 13 million unique visitors a month in its first year.

Video efforts like these are all supported by advertising dollars, but Press+ cofounders Steve Brill and Gordon Crovitz say that publishers are eventually going to come to the same conclusion with video that they did with news: Ads aren’t enough.

And when publishers have put video behind a paywall, Crovitz said, they “make the mistake that some print publishers also made” by installing “a hard paywall, which not only slashes ad revenue but does not allow viewers to sample, to see our proven welcome messaging, and to get engaged in the product before being asked to buy it or to buy an upsell of a subscription to a package of videos.”