Last year the Winnipeg Free Press became the first Canadian daily – and the first newspaper on the continent – to introduce payment per article. Initially, the paper had fewer subscribers than they expected, but recently reported that those individuals, on average, are starting to pay more for more articles. It’s now expected that these ‘micropayments’ will generate about $100,000 in revenue this year. Eight months into launching the system, about 4,300 readers have bought at least one individual story. On average, readers are spending only $2 per month, but it all adds up. Each story costs about 27¢. The Free Press also offers digital subscriptions at $16.99 a month. About 4,000 in the province have become digital subscribers, while about 25,000 print subscribers have started a digital account. The newspaper is projecting an additional $500,000 in revenue from all of its digital platforms by the end of the year. It estimates that approximately 20% of that total will come from these ‘micropayments.’ Still, the company saw a 14% drop in print advertising revenue last year – and revenues for the first two months of 2016 were approximately 10% lower than the previous year.
Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.