The New York Times launched its metered paywall in 2011. Since then, newspapers across the United States have followed the Times’ lead by introducing their own digital subscription programs. Of the 98 U.S. newspapers with circulation higher than 50,000, nearly 80 percent have some sort of paywall, according to an American Press Institute study published earlier this year.
But once those paywalls are up, what causes outlets to pull them back down? Between 1999 and May 2015, newspapers eliminated their paywalls 69 times, according to a study out this week by University of Southern California professor Mike Ananny and USC Ph.D. candidate Leila Bighash. (The authors say they came to this figure by finding public mentions of the decisions to drop paywalls, so they admit that their analysis could miss some of the times newspapers changed how they charge for online access.)
The decision to drop a paywall can provide insight into how a news organization’s “values intersect with its commodification strategy, its technology design, and its brand identity” as outlets of all stripes are still deciding how much their reporting should cost.
Of the 69 instances paywalls were dropped or eliminated, there were 41 times that news outlets dropped them only temporarily; the other 28 times, papers made the decision to permanently reduce or eliminate them. Ananny and Bighash were able to categorize these changes in paywall strategy into six different scenarios.
Here are the reasons why publishers drop their paywalls, according to the study:
Planned special events
Advertising and promotion
Read the full article at: www.niemanlab.org
For more, check out our guide on The New Paywall: 5 Strategies for Newspaper Readership Growth