Le Monde announced Tuesday that, starting March 29, it will be offering a new subscription package encompassing all media on which the top French newspaper is offered. Currently, the site offers free access to much of its online content, articles from that day's print newspaper, which are relegated to a subscription-only archive the next day, and there is a free iPhone application, which has received over 1.4 million downloads to date. Upon the implementation of a paywall, Le Monde's print edition will no longer be available online to anyone but web subscribers.
The move comes as part of an effort to create what Eric Fotterino, CEO of Le Monde, calls a "global brand."
"The different platforms, paper and digital, are not competing but complementary," he said.
Le Monde's print team and web team work mostly separately, which results in a disparity between the print product and the web product. Though efforts have been made recently to bridge the divide between the two newsrooms, Le Monde the newspaper and LeMonde.fr the website are often considered two different products sharing one name.
The company is betting that consumers will be willing to pay for at least the print version on all platforms. Starting Monday, articles from the print version that are posted on the web will gradually come under a paywall, ultimately accessible only to subscribers. The web version will change, with added web-only content from the print editorial team and specific author pages archiving their articles and offering biographical information.
Le Monde's lowest-priced subscription service is a 6-euro-per-month package which allows users access to all of the newspaper's content on the web and some extras, including archives, topic-specific newsletters, and the site's news wires. But in accordance with the idea of a "global brand," Le Monde hopes to sell all of its platforms to readers, and has created a number of new packages to support this goal.
The company will now offer a 15-euro-per-month iPhone app that will allow access to all print articles on the iPhone. And the largest subscription package, which the company has titled "100% Le Monde," will include a subscription to the paper, access to premium content on the web, access to the paid iPhone app and, when it arrives, Le Monde on the iPad.
This service is one of the most comprehensive but also the most expensive to come out of the array of recently announced paid content plans. 100% Le Monde will put you back 19.90 euros per month for the first three, then 29.90 every month after that.
The company hopes to entice readers to spend the money by improving its product. Starting Monday, the paper's 2nd page will include a summary of the news titled "24 hours in the world," directing users to related Le Monde articles. There will be a daily 2-page spread covering a news issue in-depth, with more investigation and information "behind the facts." There will be some layout changes, and increased space for photography, and Le Monde plans to improve its newsletters and offer one focused on the environment and the economy.
But it is clear that Le Monde's new plan is just an experiment, like so many other paywalls to come out recently. There is no model to price online content, and so newspapers are forging their own way in an unstable economy. Will the "global brand" ensure the survival of both print and digital media in a time defined by uncertainty?
Source: Le Monde