Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Few sign up to pay for news in MNG test

MediaNews Group’s pay wall experiment is yielding mixed results, according to the Denver Business Journal, which covers the city where MediaNews Group is based.

MNG put up pay walls at its papers in Chico and York, Pa., last year.

Chief executive Dean Singleton said the pay walls haven’t scared readers or advertisers away from the papers’ websites, but they haven’t spurred online subscriptions either.

Chico and York readers are asked ― after some amount of free access ― to pay for access to local news. Other kinds of news is freely accessible on the newspapers' websites, but not certain premium content after a reader has viewed 10 stories.

Few readers are ponying up to read the premium stuff in either test market, though the Journal story didn’t give any numbers. When the Long Island newspaper Newsday put its content behind a pay wall last year, it sold only 35 subscriptions in three months.

"We are somewhat disappointed in the number of consumers that don't go beyond the pay wall." Singleton told the Business Journal. "That tells us that there may not be as many consumers that will pay for content as we'd hoped. However, it also tells us that we are beginning, over time, to convince the consumer that all content is not free."

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