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The Australianís Paywall Exceeds Targets

21 Mar 2012

Since launching a paywall last October, The Australian has attracted 40,000 subscribers to its digital platforms, exceeding all initial targets set by News Limited, the company claims.

This figure includes 30,000 paying subscribers to the digital platforms, including those who have taken up the Digital Pass, bought new print and digital bundles, individual application sales and sales of replica copies through Newspapers Direct, as well as 10,000 print subscribers who have taken up the offer of a complimentary 12 month pass.

The Australian said it was not detailing breakdown between the digital channels at this stage, but would do so when expected changes to the Audit Bureau of Circulation's reporting came into effect.

The chief operating officer of The Australian, John Allan said the company was "very happy" with the figures:

"Clearly we are still in very early days, and we are learning every day, but this is an extremely encouraging start. The number of consumers who have trialled our product, and subsequently taken up the subscription offer, has comfortably exceeded both our internal sweepstakes and our budgets.

"With print circulation remaining steady, we are growing overall paid sales of The Australian and we are earning more digital revenue under the new subscription model than we were under the advertising-only model."

Furthermore, Allan said that the move had boosted print subscriptions, with many people having chosen to take up the print and digital bundles.

Steve Allen, chief executive of media agency Fusion Strategy has also lauded the results as impressive.

"These are very encouraging figures. A near 20 per cent lift [on The Australian's average circulation of 160,000] would have to be counted as a significant milestone and success.

"[The figures] must encourage The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to get behind paywalls in a similar freemium way," Fusion's Allen told B&T.

The Australian launched its digital subscription packages with a three month free trial of its Digital Pass which gives full access to its website, tablet application and mobile site. Conversion from the trial to paid subscriptions began at the end of January and continues.

The Australian's main Fairfax rival, The Australian Financial Review, which has operated online under a paywall for years, revealed its online subscription figures to be 10,897 at the end of last December. The numbers were released following major changes to its pricing strategy in November which included almost halving digital subscription fees.

The News Limited figures come two days after reports that Fairfax Media has engaged services of management consultants to evaluate the alternatives for erecting online pay walls around its metropolitan newspaper titles including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age online.

Source: B&T

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