UK paper The Telegraph will go behind a paywall according to a story on Financial Times and a host of tweets.[We would link you to the Financial Times story, but it’s behind a paywall too so there’s not much point.]
The Telegraph has one of the best UK websites, rivalling both the Guardian and the Daily Mail for top British paper online. And unusually among commercial news sites, it was actually turning a profit.
We’re not sure of the details of the new arrangement, but apparently The Telegraph was considering some kind of hybrid paywall/free system, as former Telegraph editor Will Lewis told a blogger last year.
The Times has experimented with a pay wall since June. It has hardly been an unqualified success. The Telegraph wrote about the Times paywall in not-exactly-positive terms earlier this month..
“Whether the numbers go up or down is crucial. It won’t surprise regular readers of this blog to learn that I, like Adam, think the numbers will go down, or at least stay flat. News International says it is “early days” and clearly expects significant growth.
“They’ll need it. They are making less from their paywall site than they would have made from a free one. And competition online will continue to grow, with new players offering sites that will be free to readers and very agile when it comes to selling web advertising. Acquiring new readers will get harder for paywall sites, not easier.”
The strongest criticism of the pay wall idea probably comes from media commentator Clay Shirky who wrote a lengthy article describing it how it had transformed the Times from being a large-scale news site to being a small-scale newsletter. Worth a read.
What do you think?