More on the ODT paywall

Tim Murphy at The Spinoff has more details on the ODT plans for putting up a paywall on a new news website.

There will be a lot of interest in seeing how it goes by other media who contemplate the pros and cons of paywalls versus click based advertising.

Watch this space: ODT takes the paywall plunge

From mid-April, Dunedin’s leading newsroom will introduce a metered paywall offering between 15 and 30 free stories a month before readers have to cough up about $27 a month as a subscriber. Print subscribers already pay that figure monthly and will get the digital subscription free.

Charging the same amount as the print version (whose subscribers also get an online subscription) may be aimed at bolstering print circulation but it doesn’t make sense.

It will be the first major news publisher in New Zealand to do so, following many in the United States, Europe and Australia. And it could be in the right place, at the right time, to make it work.

Two smaller New Zealand regional papers have introduced paywalls. TheAshburton Guardian makes visitors to its Guardian Online site pay from the get-go to read its stories. The Gisborne Herald allows seven free reads of stories before seeking a subscription payment.

The Listener and NBR already operate with subscription paywalls.

The two big players in this country, stuff.co.nz, owned by Fairfax, and nzherald.co.nz, run by NZME, have vowed not to go there any time soon with paywalls – both are intent on earning money from their digital content by attracting advertisers through ever-rising audience numbers.

Which means a move towards more click bait trivia.

Its chief, Sir Julian Smith, leads a business which still has a total editorial staff of almost 80 and an overall headcount of 400 or so – a big presence in both senses in Dunedin and the province.

Sir Julian will be hoping a Meclab survey finding from the US this month on willingness to pay – that “respondents point above all to the ability to gain access to exclusive content unavailable from other news orgs, including arts and culture and local news” – will be reflected in the south.

Everyone further north will be watching.

Will enough of those in the south pay?