News Limited to move to a metered paywall from next month

News Limited is set to abandon its existing paywall model and move to a metered model in less than a month, Mumbrella can reveal.

Sources have told Mumbrella that metro tabloids The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun will move to the new model, a two-stage metered paywall, from the middle of May.

News Limited’s new paywall model will monitor usage based on cookies dropped onto users’s browsers. After looking at a certain number of articles, readers will be asked to register, in order to be given a further number of free stories. Once readers reach a second quota of stories, they will be asked to pay.

The publisher’s new digital subscriber strategy, being called News Plus, is a departure from the current “freemium” paywall, which combines some free content with other content requiring a paid subscription, and which was first introduced by The Australian in October 2011. Melbourne tabloid The Herald Sun also introduced a “freemium” paywall in March 2012.

A spokesman for News Limited declined to comment – however, the company has previously confirmed that an announcement on its digital subscription strategy would be made in the near future.

The move comes after Fairfax announced earlier this year that it was putting up a metered paywall on its metropolitan titles, with readers in North America, Europe and the Middle East now being asked to pay, while readers in Australia, NZ and Asia pacific to follow “mid-year”.

Mumbrella understands that The Australian, which has around 40,000 digital subscribers, will also adopt the News Plus metered model but that this change will not occur until the new financial year.

News Limited has not released numbers on the number of Herald Sun digital subscribers however, reports in The Australian from late last year suggested the company was disappointed with the take up of digital subscribers on the metropolitan tabloid and that this had led to a review of its paywall strategy.

Nic Christensen


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