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Landscape of paywall adoption in USA
In a context where paper-based revenues are generally falling, newspaper have been implementing new strategies in recent years to diversify their sources of profits. And digital subscription is a pillar of this diversification. It is mainly for this reason that paywalls have appeared in different forms over the past 20 years.
These “walls” block all or part of the content on publisher’s website. Generally, in a rather cold and non-personalized way, readers are asked to pay to access the content or leave. Paywall has really been democratized since 2010, and this is the case in France, Europe and internationally. To make it simple, this is the case in every country where a newspaper owns a website and 5 years feedback from the “all free”. Generally, because Vice is the perfect counter-example!
To understand how we got here today, we will study in more detail the history of paywalls, especially in the United States, a pioneering country on online content monetization
1997: first year of experiment
Although their implementation has been democratized in recent years, paywalls are nothing new and have emerged soon after the advent of Internet and the creation of the first American newspaper websites. Very quickly, publishers tried to implement what worked from print to digital. The first (big) daily to adopt this logic is the Wall Street Journal in 1997 with a subscription offer of $ 50 / year to have full access to their website.
For what results? The first year of implementation made it possible to generate 200,000 new subscriptions. 10 years after the number of subscribers on the digital exceeds 1M. While these figures are impressive, it is difficult to say whether this strategy has been a complete success for the publisher. In order to do this, it would be necessary to have a precise vision of the impact that this could have on the audience and notably on the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User).
A relatively slow adoption of paywall on the rest of the country
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