Regional Paywalls – Boosting Print Circulation

Ah regional newspapers. Once the power-houses of local news across the UK, the many expresses, echos, stars, mails and gazettes have, like so many others, suffered ever lower circulation figures as readers increasingly turn to the World Wide Web for their fix on local news.

You’d think in the world of ‘free media’ readers would be reluctant to handover cash to access a local paper’s website – say from behind a paywall. So it was a little surprising to see the UK’s largest circulation regional paper, the Express & Star, erecting a paywall following a preview last month.

The Express & Star 24 site costs £2.81 per week for web and mobile access, and offers a range of local news, weather, traffic, football analysis and a digital version of the offline paper – pretty much all you’d expect from a local paper.

However, the price is a bit of a sneaky point. Paid Content points out, as VAT is not added to print paper costs, the cost of a digital and print bundle is actually cheaper (£2.34 per week) than the digital offering alone. This basically means the digital bundle comes in at the same price as the Monday-Saturday print edition.

This ensures the paper can use its digital presence to keep print readers up, keeping the audience loyal and steadying the subscription revenue stream. Quite a shrewd move.

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