Online media in Spain have decided to change their positioning strategy, at least those that cover general information and that reach a general public. After years of betting to live on advertising, they are launching for payment for the news. The last to announce that it is going to the paywall has been El País .
The medium has started in recent weeks an awareness campaign with its readers, publicizing what they are going to charge and talking about the work behind creating a newspaper (in short, generating arguments to explain why it is going to do it). The medium will come out with a monthly fee of 10 euros per month, although consumers will be able to access news at no cost beforehand (up to a maximum of 10 per month).
It is the same model that The New York Times uses , for example (although international digital access to that newspaper is at 8 euros per month). The El País movement was one of those predicted with the start of the year and that marked the agenda of the jump to the Madrid media paywall .
El Mundo had already done it a few months before, with a monthly rate of 7.99 euros. Outside the headlines of Madrid, many other newspapers had made the leap to payment during 2019. Some of the local and regional press headlines with the greatest distribution had begun to block access to content.
The model they use, however, is different. Headers such as Faro de Vigo or La Voz de Galicia limit the content they consider premium to their subscribers. Their monthly prices are lower than those set by El Mundoor The Country .
A change of strategy
The move is read by media industry analysts as a move that breaks with the tradition of online media in Spain. As noted in an analysis on Digiday , the Spanish market is pivoting towards payment models, despite its early underwriting experiences that have been unsuccessful.
The ‘always’ media want to seek a security that the model of dependence on advertising has not given them. And, in addition, the Spanish, remember in the analysis, are paying for payment services, such as Netflix and VoD, or digital pure player media that already came out with subscription formats.
Of course, the positions are different and the perception of these products as well. Subscriber digital media have created a specific brand image that helps sustain that model. And Netflix looks very different from how online news looks.
In the Spanish market, payment for news is not usual and is very minority (7% of Internet users). Going against this trend could be difficult for the Spanish media: the general Spanish market is not the same market nor is it in the same situations as those who pay The Economist or The Wall Street Journal .
This is what one of the experts at the Reuters Institute Digital News Report points out. The markets for these publications are mature markets for payment. The change, in addition, will not only imply changing how it is profitable, but also how the news is made. Paid media users don’t want clickbait news, they want in-depth content that they feel is worth paying for.
And, in addition, paying users will not be willing either, it should be added, to the abuse of advertising, which many of these headers have used recurrently in recent years.