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UAS Management – Case #2
- 6 Replies
DeletedUserMemberApril 29, 2021 at 4:04 pm
1. Is the paywall working?
The numbers presented in the case study seem to indicate that the paywall is indeed working, at least for the New York Times. For the past several years of data that was available, there was a steady decline in print subscribers, and a steady increase in online readership. More importantly, there’s a steady increase in the amount of subscribed readers for the online content. However, the most recent data for net income/loss shows the newest data (2011) in the red. Now that it’s 2021 and the New York Times is still in business and still has a paywall, then it must be working out for them. In the age of the Internet when you can piece together a story by reading half a dozen articles from publications with half a dozen different takes on the same story all for free, it is a silly proposition to pay a monthly subscription to a single news company for their “premium” articles. There are many other reputable news sources out there that will offer similar coverage. With many more news companies on the Internet adopting paywalls, it has also become possible to kite around between news sites that feature a paywall without paying for any one of them, as long as they offer a certain number of articles for free.
1. Why are newspapers in trouble? What is the goal of the Times in creating the paywall?
Newspapers are in trouble because of the rise of the Internet. Not only is an enormous physical piece of paper less convenient and portable to potential readers than a tablet or a smartphone, but the content of that newspaper itself has been divided up in to different services. For instance, the most popular classified ad service on the Internet is not operated by a newspaper, and neither are job listings. The downfall of printed media is due to the disruption to their platform that the advent of the Internet brought to the world. News organizations now have to become focused solely on their articles now, because many of the other services that were offered in the papers previously have moved online to a different platform. There is still advertising in online news articles, but the revenue from that alone is not enough to keep newspapers afloat in their current form. The New York Times created their paywall in order to recapture a monthly subscription fee from readers in order to keep their business model profitable while they are hemorrhaging print subscribers and other revenue associated with a printed newspaper.
4. Should the Times actively manage to transition from print to digital?
The New York Times should manage to successfully transition from a printed format to a digital format. Today their website is still going strong. It is also highly unlikely that a news organization would succeed in 2021 with a print-only format. However, until the subscribers who still appreciate a printed newspaper have all died out, it will likely make sense to continue publishing the newspaper in a printed format , as it’s likely still profitable. The printing equipment by this point should have all been paid for long ago, and they’re printing less papers as time goes on, which should decrease their overhead costs. In order to have staying power, the Times will have to re-evaluate their subscription fee on a yearly basis in order to fine-tune and optimize their number of paying readers. It makes sense to continue with a certain number of free articles per reader per month, because otherwise it would be difficult to generate interest in a “premium product” without first giving out “free samples”. Additionally, these free page views are not entirely a loss for the Times. Each page view generates ad revenue for them. In my opinion, online news stories should be free, and the publisher should re-structure its organization in order to adapt to an ad-revenue only model. This would guarantee longevity in the current climate, but there is always the temptation of greater profits by implementing a well-balanced paywall. The question that remains in my mind is whether the majority of online subscribers were previously print subscribers who bought an iPad, or if they are first-time Times subscribers. If it is the former, then the Times will inevitably be forced to ditch their paywall.
DeletedUserMemberMay 3, 2021 at 12:33 pm
I was of the opposite view that their paywall was working. They are on their (at least) third iteration of it and by the data shown, it looked to me as if the only increase in revenue was from circulation print. Also, I have not experienced any “lock-outs” from their website on reading articles , though I do receive notifications on specials to subscribe. Their most recent one is a ” Spring Special ” for a dollar a week. So this makes me question do they even have a paywall in operation currently? I have not experienced it lately, at least I have seen no mention of “X” amount of articles remaining and I have not been locked out from anything I have tried to view. One paper that I know of that I for sure run into limited online article viewings per week/month is Forbes. I believe the Wall Street Journal is the same as this, but being that I have been subscribed to them for quite an amount of time, I could not 100% say if this is a fact. Forbes is definitely a fact. 4 per week without a sub.
I definitely agree with you that online news stories should be free. I would think that many of their subscribers were hard copy subscribers that got sold the dream of “buy an iPad and all of your content will me magically available to you, all in one easy to access place”. I believe they have tried to structure their paywall around this and did not read far enough ahead into the future to just what content would eventually be available on that same iPad….for free. Now, their one save for the upcoming digital age and their “eggs in one basket” approach with that iPad is turning into nothing short of their executioner. Why would anyone pay for a service to receive an article that they can now get, on that same iPad, for free, from 3 dozen alternate media outlets? A hard core New York Times fan for sure, but the number of media outlets has increased exponentially since the New York Times started out.
I just don’t believe newspapers saw this coming, at least not as fast as it did.
DeletedUserMemberMay 4, 2021 at 12:32 pm
I believe it is a good comment to see current NY Times still with paywall. It is not that much apparent from the data available whether paywall actually worked, but a very small percentage of subscribers were shown as online, which made me think that it did not work. I’d love to see the figures from 2011 to today as well, to conclude.
Loved your comments about digital age. I am currently a subscriber to a Turkish newspaper going back to 1920’s as well. I ask myself why is that so. The answer is probably the articles of knowledgeable writers and news with now video attached since I live too remote from local content. Otherwise box scores, ads, employment opportunities, once some most attractive parts of a newspaper all turned out useless.
DeletedUserMemberMay 3, 2021 at 12:02 pm
1) Is the paywall working?
According to the data, particularly the revenues and operating costs of Exhibit 3, the paywall is not working. Not to mention the fact that this has been tried several times before and has not succeeded. Other attributes that may prevent their paywall from working are the “leaky paywall” designs. By allowing their content to be accessed from social media sites, platforms that have billions of users, they may immediately remove themselves from that pool of paid subscribers as the content is available for free from those links. Once gates like that are open, it is very near impossible to shut them again.
3) Why are newspapers in trouble? What is the goal of the Times and creating a paywall?
Newspapers are in trouble because of the digital age. With the advancements in technology that are continuously being made and the plethora of information that is available online, the need or want for hardcopy items are quickly diminishing. This definitely applies to more than just newspapers and a case in point would be encyclopedias. Encyclopedias were the go-to for information throughout my junior high, high school and college days. This could be said for newspapers as well. Newspapers were the go-to for information regarding local, national and worldly information. Their rise to fame was well before any other types of communication for such were even invented. The spreading of news and events via written text have been well documented throughout history, but the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg would change how this information was delivered forever.
As this technology advanced into what we know now as the common newspaper, no one could have guessed how far technology would go and how much it would influence our society. No thought was put into planning for the future of newspapers because it was assumed that they would always be around, how could they not? By making this assumption and not understanding what the future would bring, they essentially failed to plan for that outcome that they now face.
As technology has become ever more present through the likes of social media, blogs, etc. all aspects of the newspapers revenue have been affected. Classifieds, personals, advertising, the stories themselves; all have been brought forwarded upon these new channels and the companies that were using these newspapers have now discovered that they can accomplish the same effect with a lower cost to themselves buy marketing their own advertising on the same platforms that was essentially backdooring the newspapers paywall setup, again through the “leaky paywall”.
By creating a paywall, the Times was likely hoping to up the revenue by going online to compensate for their belief of of their downward slide in their hardcopy print. Perhaps they thought that they would corner the digital world and continue to maintain all of their current clients (or sponsors in the case of advertising). However, by not sticking to their guns and sticking to a bulletproof paywall, a new problem was introduced and this could partly be responsible for their continued downward slide in the parking rate the stupid structure revenue that they had hoped to gain. The influx of new users could possibly be attributed to just that, the newness of it all. Consumers are apt to easily get wrapped up in the “next, latest and greatest thing” and certainly offering their paper on an iPad would trigger this type of movement. As the newness wares off however, as all things eventually do, and the way that the content was provided (and then not provided) its almost like they unknowingly built a poison pill into their paywall model. The first iteration did not work out as tech just was not what it was even then as it is now and they still perhaps did not see what the future would bring. Perhaps if they would have stuck with original plan, it would have worked out today quite a bit more in their favor. It is hard to guess this though and one major likely fault to all of this was the assumption that news papers would always be around, that it was set in stone and that their longstanding clients that they provided for would also always be there, another damaging assumption. They didn’t read far enough ahead to see that the clients they had might take to their own form of advertising etc. on these new platforms.
4) Should the times actively manage to transition from print to digital?
While all signs of everything in this day and age point going to digital and though they realize this, at this point, it almost seems too little too late. Mistakes were made in establishing what it was that they wanted to do and how they were to go about doing so and this will severely affect them in moving forward. With the transition that is being made to digital and the exponential growth of the digital market that is seen today, one would think that they should try to manage their transition from print to digital. However, looking at the statistics from Exhibit 3, circulation revenues are the only thing that increased in the measured times. Are these hardcopy circulations? If they are to manage this transition properly, one thing that should be addressed is the presence of their “leaky paywall”. However, it may be too late for this and by removing this feature from their clients in the platforms that they are promoted on, anger and frustrations about their services could, and possibly would, become prevalent and in essence they could be removing advertising from their own self by not being on these platforms.
DeletedUserMemberMay 4, 2021 at 12:45 pm
I tend to agree with you on paywall is not working, at least back in 2011.
I agree with you about digital content taking over, and especially well established newspapers are having hard time to do the transition.
What I start to observe about the transition to digital of some mainline newspapers is to invest on TV news channels in addition to digital newspapers. This is certainly a way to reach out to a different audience once you gather information as journalists.
DeletedUserMemberMay 6, 2021 at 3:11 pm
All good points, Wyatt. It is very possible that the New York Times is continuing to lose money due to their paywall, because there wasn’t up-to-date data available in the article. A newspaper with a crystal ball would have seen the massive changes in media coming, and planned accordingly.
However, leaks in their paywall may be what has kept them alive this far. They are able to generate revenue off of the free readers as well as the paid readers that way. I, for one, would like to see paywalls disappear in the future.