With the current variety of platforms to consume news, newspapers and magazines are stepping up their efforts to attract readers willing to pay for content. Some publications have separate subscription plans for digital content, while others choose to provide online news for free but charge for access through apps.
Time Magazine is the latest to join the ranks of the "all-access" publications, which allow print subscribers full online and tablet apps (for $30 a year, in Time Magazine's case). Those wishing to "taste test" the model can opt for monthly access, in which they will receive the print, full access to TIME.com, and tablet editions for $2.99 - an attractive pricetag for new customers determining where to consume news. Those who only wish to access the website for a short time are the most penalized, as the week-long pass costs $4.99.
Time Magazine follows in the footsteps of The New York Times, which released its highly anticipated paywall earlier this year. Although many predicted doom and gloom, the paywall seems to be doing pretty well - partly because print subscribers are allowed full online access. In fact, the newspaper has actually seen print subscriptions increase since introducing the paywall.
Readers who subscribe to print when so much content is available online are some of the most loyal customers in the industry. Not allowing them to have full online access assumes that customers do not utilize multiple devices, an assumption that is counterproductive for publications that are trying to demonstrate their commitment to digital as well as print.
In other paid content news, Scribd has created a paid news site aggregating different news sources under one subscription umbrella. This model bets on the alternative, that readers do not care about print subscriptions but would like to have a variety of digital news options. The digital newsstand is called Float, and it works similarly to Flipboard. Users create a news hub based on their Scribd, Facebook and Twitter accounts. For now, the service is free in order to attract a user base, but it hopes to begin generating revenue in October with the introduction of ads.
Monetizing digital content remains a challenge for many publishers. Keeping subscription models as simple as possible is important; otherwise, confused consumers will give up and may turn elsewhere for their news.