Gannett May Charge For Content, Continues Pay Wall Experiment
Gannett Co. may join the ranks of major newspaper publishers -- including The New York Times Co. and Dow Jones -- currently charging or planning to charge for online content, according to CEO Craig Dubow in an interview with Bloomberg.
The company is already experimenting with a paid-content model at three of its local newspaper Web sites: The Greenville News, in Greenville, South Carolina, Florida's Tallahassee Democrat and The Spectrum of St. George, Utah.
At the Greenville News, readers pay $7.95 per year for access to reporting on Clemson University sports, per Bloomberg.
Reflecting the high degree of interest in the college sports machine among loyalists, subscribers who read Clemson content typically view 40 pages to 70 pages in an average visit, versus six to eight pages for the average Gannett Web site, Gannett said.
The company's flagship newspaper is USA Today.
The news that Gannett is considering broader implementation of pay walls around online content comes as the New York Times Co. continues to prepare its own metered pay-wall system for the Web site of its flagship newspaper, where heavy readers will be asked to pay for access to content after reading a certain number of articles for free.
The details of the NYT pay wall -- which has been delayed several times amid reports of technical glitches and last-minute tweaking -- are still unclear. They include how many articles readers can view for free before having to pay, and how much they will be asked to pay. Some reports say the metered system will end up charging heavy readers less than the cost ($19.99) of a digital subscription to the NYT on Amazon's Kindle e-reader.
The precipitous decline in print advertising revenues over the last few years has forced many major newspaper publishers to at least consider charging for online content. However, there is also widespread skepticism that online readers, who have grown accustomed to free access over the last decade, will be willing to pay for news -- especially if similar content is available elsewhere for free.