Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Sun Introduces Online Paywalls, Restricting Customer Engagement

The Sun Newspaper

The Sun has begun placing itself behind a paywall, thus restricting access to their content to only those who pay for the privilege or have a subscription to the print edition of the newspaper.

The latest culprit is Rupert Murdoch's redtop newspaper The Sun, which follows in the footsteps of the Telegraph who announced yesterday that they would be charging readers for access.

Some newspapers, such as The Times – which is also owned by Rupert Murdoch's news empire, News Corp. International – have had such a system running for three years now as part of their Times+ subscriber package. But news that the UKs most popular paper is jumping behind a paywall due to being "untenable", is a very worrying idea.

Speaking to the Guardian, The Sun's CE Mike Darcey said that the decision to move behind a paywall comes from "a deep-seated belief that it is just untenable to have 2.4 million people paying 40p for the Sun at the same time as a bunch of other people are getting it for free."

"The Sun website is a fantastic website and sometimes it is a better product. I have to believe that we are all suffering, to a greater or lesser degree in the print world because of that, that part of those people are saying day in, day out 'why am I paying for the Sun when I can get it for free',"

By placing themselves behind a paywall, is The Sun damaging the way it engages with customers? Surely a part of the reason why many went online to read the Sun was because it was free. Now it's behind a paywall won't many flock to the various other free news outlets available online?

It all depends on the cost of the privilege and how easy they make it to pay. Currently the model will offer 20 free articles a month, with the rest needing to be paid for to see. It's unlikely a subscription will cost a similar amount to that of the print version.

Perhaps moving to a different method of monetisation would have benefited the paper?

Maybe changing how they gained revenue from the print edition – thus allowing them to keep the online version free – could be the solution that kept readers on side?

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