Trends for 2011 Part 2: Paywalls

The Times, the News of the World and the FT all now have content behind a paywall, although the latter does make some content freely available.

Paywalls: A PR trend for 2011
Paywalls: A PR trend for 2011

Lansons' Langham says The Times paywall is not working out 'fantastically' but concedes that 'whoever went first was never going to be a success.'

He adds: 'I wonder whether The Times paywall is a loss-leader as part of the long-term strategy to reduce the power of the BBC site. Commercial organisations can say "we can't have a business because of the state-funded website" and it gives them extra power in the long term to change that.'

Until paywalls in their entirety are viable, 2011 could see media firms experimenting with different levels of paid-for content, such as the FT's model.

Apps will also be key. Alan Edwards, founder of The Outside Organisation, says: 'Some iPad apps, especially newspapers such as The Sun and Times, make it a really superb reading experience. In an ideal world this will drive people to start paying for content.'

33 Digital's Benvie adds: 'We are starting to see media organisations experiment with the way they present the news. People might want to pay for an app and get the news for free, or they may want the app for free and then pay incrementally for the news.'

Bell Pottinger's Read says readers may feel better about paying for content if other readers do the same.

If The Observer or The Guardian started charging, he says: 'We would not find that unwelcome. It makes the idea of me as the only person paying for The Sunday Times feel more comfortable that other readers on the left (of the political spectrum) might do the same.'

Click here to see Cathy Bussey, features editor of PRWeek ask a panel of experts what they think are the key trends for 2011.

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