The announcements are coming fast and furious in the print media, or soon to be digital media! Over the past 24 hours The Telegraph announced that it was moving behind a paywall in April and The Sun also chipped in that it too was leaping over as well, but in August, to coincide with the beginning of the Premier League.
To be technically correct the Telegraph will sit behind a metered paywall, where it will allow the viewer 20 articles per month free. Unfettered access to their website and app will be £1.99 per week and, for the year, £20. Then there is a separate subscription, which is £9.99 per month or £99 a year, for access to their publications via a tablet coupled with “loyalty club membership”. So they are making a clear and a premium price distinction between PC/App based viewing and viewing their publications via a tablet.
The print price of the Daily Telegraph is £1.20 M-F, £2.00 Sat and the Sunday Telegraph is £2.00. Even the higher digital price of £99 p.a. is good value in comparison to the print edition, which would be £520 if you were to buy the Daily every day and the Sunday every week.
It’s a very complex scenario to predict a final outcome. Each of the UK papers has very different web subscription rates and these rates, in many cases, are spurious as the publisher’s content is available free. But compared to the rates sought by the Irish Times and IN&M they are extremely competitive. I updated a table of digital newspaper subscription rates and you can see the differences there.
Currently only the Times and the FT are behind a paywall but with two other titles joining the ranks, one can only wonder will this begin to see some momentum in the industry and drive more papers behind the wall. They have to be formulating some strategy digitally – one would hope.
The Sun’s decision is very much allied to a deal that it has done with the Premier League. Under the deal News International are allowed to show 30 second clips of Premier League match highlights from 5:15pm on their websites. They have said that they believe that a collaboration of their journalism alongside providers of video, sitting on the likes of tablet platforms, would be the direction of their business.
The Daily Telegraph currently sell 541,036 papers a day and The Sunday Telegraph 429,346 every Sunday. In comparison it has 3,015,099 unique visitors daily to telegraph.co.uk and tips 13m unique per month.
To try and put some financial projections on those numbers above: If they could convert 10% of their daily visitors to become £99 p.a. subscribers then the pot would be worth just shy of £30m. But that’s unrealistic. Conversely converting 10% to a £20 p.a. subscription gives you a max of £6m.
Looking at some penetration data and given the Telegraph's viewers would be ‘tablet orientated’ I plum for a 25% split for Tablets, the rest for web/app – 10% of both convert to digital and all in for a year subscription (depending on the annual rate per device) would get you, potentially, just shy of £12m (5% conversion would be £5.9m)
The Sun sells 2,281,990 copies a day and The Sun (Sunday) manages 1,912,643 every Sunday. By comparison thesun.co.uk (and ancillary sites like sunbingo.co.uk and page3.com) gets 1,785,821 per day and 27,712,733 per month.