Last week, the UK’s largest tabloid newspaper, The Sun, removed it’s website Paywall and once again allowed its content to be viewed free (but ad supported again) online.
The reason for the change of heart was because The Sun was earning less from subscribers behind a Paywall than they were from ad supported free content.
The conclusion isn’t that Paywalls don’t work for online newspapers – The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and here in Australia, The Financial Review – all successfully run paywalls.Paywalls work where the tribe so identifies with the publisher they simply must pay for the content Click To Tweet
If one were climbing up the corporate ladder in Australia, it would be unthinkable to not be reading the ‘Fin Review’ – this is one tribe such a person simply can’t afford to not be a part of. The ‘Fin Review’ is more than a newspaper – its a club, and we know if you’re in or not.
The problem with the Sun is that tabloid news is abundant, and is freely available everywhere now. It makes no difference whether I hear about the latest celebrity break up via The Sun or any of the other million sources that make such content freely available. Even The Sun’s infamous Page 3 girls were not enough to draw subscribers – for the same reason that Playboy dropped nudity.
Worse, The Sun’s only hope to viability was to convince the few who did end up subscribing to share their content with friends in order to gain more subscribers – unfortunately the Paywall had the reverse effect, handicapping The Sun’s 1000 True Fans.
The Sun was attempting to deliver The Average for the Most for the Most – which failed.
The Fin Review works however because they’re delivering the Best for the Least for the Most.