Saratogian, Record paywalls are up

saratogian paywall notice

We were greeted by something new when visiting the websites for The Record and The Saratogian this week: paywall notices.

The paywalls allow a certain number of free articles before access is restricted, though it's not designated in the FAQ (it appears to be five articles). Access beyond that limit is $3 per week for online only (print subscribers also get access). If the papers can deliver good content, that's not a bad price -- most people probably spend more on a cup of coffee.

From the answer to the "Why Is There A Meter?" question in the FAQ:

As The Saratogian continues to evolve, we continue to invest in the digital future of The Saratogian so we can continue to serve you and others in our communities. We have set the meter on www.saratogian.com high enough that many readers may never reach it but if you are a regular/daily reader - and we hope you are - then you will want to subscribe to ensure you continue to have access to the news and information that matters to you.

It was announced this past November that both papers would be metering access to their website as part of a company wide plan by their parent, Digital First Media. In a post describing the company's path to the decision, DFM CEO John Paton said the paywalls are an effort to provide the "proverbial gas in the tank" to get the DFM through the transition from traditional printed products to digital.

record paywall limit reached

Even though newspapers have seen a large portion of their audience move online, the bulk of most paper's revenue still comes from print ads. Paywalls are an attempt to start generating more revenue from the online side (and/or help shore up print subscriptions). The tactic seems to have had varying levels of success (having good content helps). The New York Times is one of the most prominent examples of a metered paywall, and last August it reported pulling in more $150 million a year in revenue from its wall (that also included the Boston Globe).

Locally, the Daily Gazette has a had a paywall for years. And it appears to be having some success with it. The paper reports having 20,000 paid online subscribers. That probably represents a fair chunk of revenue. (Update: We hear that number doesn't necessarily represent only online subscriptions -- it also includes discounted online-add-ons to regular subscriptions, so the chunk of revenue might be not be as big as it appears.)

With the Gazette, Record, Saratogian, and Post-Star now all paywalled to some extent, it will be interesting to see how the new situation affects the strategy at the currently un-walled Times Union.

The fact is that no media company has yet figured out a guaranteed plan to stay afloat over the longterm. A lot of people are making guesses, some of which will end up working (eventually, maybe) and some will probably result in total failure. The trends for newspapers aren't exactly encouraging. Print subscriber circulations are eroding, digital advertising revenue isn't rising quickly, and paywalls can be a tricky proposition.

So maybe the paywall is a way forward. It's worth a shot. At this point, there's more risk in doing nothing.

Comments

If this trend continues, we may even see the day when readers are newspapers' primary customers instead of advertisers.

And no /?free option...

Meanwhile the role of AOA is reduced to feeding constant stream of traffic and paying customers to these websites. A sad ending...

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Bumper gawking

Friday afternoon before what's a long weekend for a lot of people? Sounds like time for that highest of high concepts... bumper gawking. At long... (more)

Do go chasing waterfalls

Because waterfalls: Here's a nice roundup of some waterfalls around the state from the DEC's Conservationist a few years back -- a few are close... (more)

Troy's Washington Park, from inside the fence

The gate for Troy's Washington Park was open Thursday evening as part of the hidden garden tour, so we had to take a few minutes... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

Congratulations, you've reached the weekend. And for many of you, it's three days long because of Memorial Day on Monday. If you're looking for a... (more)

Morning Blend

Oil trains The state Department of Environmental Conversation announced Thursday that it's rescinding its earlier to decision to no require a full environmental review of... (more)

Recent Comments

My daughter just started private swim lessons at Ciccotti Center in Colonie. She has only been to two but so far she loves it. They also seem to be flexible with scheduling for the private lessons - doesn't need to be at a set day and time each week.

We're #61

...has 2 comments, most recently from Observer

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 2 comments, most recently from Bri

Swim lessons for young children?

...has 11 comments, most recently from K

Summer suggestions for a young adult visiting from out of town?

...has 10 comments, most recently from BS

Falafel and shawarma at Saati Deli and Catering

...has 10 comments, most recently from Jeff M