The Wall Street Journal has a round-up of newspaper paywalls, and it ain’t pretty:
So far, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis has attracted 14,000 digital subscribers—equivalent to about 5.7% of its existing weekday print subscribers—since it started charging readers for its website in November. The Boston Globe has sold about 16,000 digital subscriptions, which include those for mobile devices, in the three months after it launched a paid website last fall, compared with its daily print circulation of about 200,000. Meanwhile, Newsday in New York had fewer than 1,000 paying digital subscribers two years after erecting an online paywall.
The results of a Pew study that got a look at the books of a half-dozen papers are similarly harsh:
On average, for every new dollar the newspapers were earning in new digital advertising revenue, they were losing $7 in print advertising revenue. The papers seemed not to be diversifying their revenue streams or coming up with innovative products at a fast enough clip.
The only papers that have had decent success with paywalls are the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times has had moderate success. Downmarket papers, not so much.