I tweeted this out yesterday evening, but here’s a little more information.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel’s parent company, Digital First Media, has announced it will be moving to a subscriber-based model.
In other words, the site will soon feature some sort of a paywall, though CEO John Paton seems to be cautious about using that precise word, given his previous remarks in opposition to paywalls.
A new subscription model that charges for frequent access to digital content was announced Monday by Digital First Media, including the newspaper group that publishes the Sentinel, as the company joins other news organizations in the quest to generate more revenue from its online and mobile offerings.
The Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. will become the first Digital First property to transition to the new model this week. With the exception of The Salt Lake Tribune, the remainder of the chain’s 75 daily newspapers will roll out subscription packages through January 2014. The Sentinel expects to adopt the new subscription model in mid-December.
The all-access metered model will allow nonsubscribers a set number of free articles per month. Subscribers will receive access to print, digital and multiple mobile products for tablets and smartphones.
Non-subscribers who now read these papers online for free will be given limited access and will need a digital or print subscription for continuous access. Occasional online readers probably won’t see much difference, but frequent online readers will be presented with a pop-up registration window. Previously, content on most Digital First sites was available free. Individual papers within the company had experimented with paywalls and other revenue generators, such as asking consumers to fill out surveys before accessing content, but neither approach had the desired results.
Surveys trimmed online traffic while traditional paywalls failed to generate significant revenue, CEO John Paton wrote in a blog entry announcing the changes.