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article imageOp-Ed: TheOnion.com introduces a paywall for non-US visitors

By Christopher Bates     Aug 5, 2011 in Business
TheOnion.com - a satirical website (and newspaper) dubbed "America’s finest news source" - is currently testing a paywall for non-US visitors.
According to paidContent, non-US visitors have the option to pay $2.95 monthly or $29.95 annually. However, unsubscribed users are still able to view a maximum of five pages every 30 days.
Michael Greer, Chief Technology Officer at the Onion, said: “Like everyone else in publishing, we are constantly testing a mix of advertising and paid access.
“We have found that most of our readers share articles with each other, and flow in and out of our site, and we do not want to limit that behavior.
“There is also a set of avid readers, and we have chosen an article limit which allows that fan base to support us directly. On other platforms like the Kindle and Nook, we have had great support from our fans and other interested readers, which has given us confidence for this move.
“We are testing a meter internationally as readers in those markets are already used to paying directly for some (other) content, particularly in the UK where we have many readers.
“We are not in a rush. We really want to see how people respond, and apply those learnings to all of our platforms."
It may not be long before the Onion's paywall is introduced to the United States, and judging by the continued success of the New York Times - which has 1 million digital subscribers since introducing a paywall back in March - it may prove profitable.
In the United Kingdom, the Times, Sunday Times and now defunct News of the World all introduced paywalls in 2010. The move hit the Times hardest, resulting in a staggering decline of four million (68%) online readers in just two months.
Although the New York Times has proved that the concept can work, paywalls still remain very risky business.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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