The Los Angeles Times today announced that starting March 5, its online content will no longer be free. It’s establishing a paywall – well… they’re calling it a “membership program.”
Subscribers of the printed newspaper will continue to have digital access for free. Online readers will be able to buy a digital subscription at an initial rate of 99 cents for four weeks. The rate then goes up to $1.99 a week in a package that also includes the Sunday newspaper. Those who don’t want the Sunday paper will have to pay $3.99 a week for digital-only access.
According to an article in the LAT, Kathy Thomson, president and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Times Media Group says it priced the digital subscription with the Sunday newspaper at a lower rate because they are “complementary products.”
Sunday is the most profitable publication day of the LAT, because it has the most advertising and readership. The strategy is to drive up circulation of the Sunday edition by giving readers the added benefit of free online access.
Readers who don’t subscribe will still be able to access LAT content – 15 stories in a 30-day period for free.
The Dallas Morning News went behind a paywall in early March of 2011. The New York Times launched its paywall later that month. The Boston Globe followed suit in September of last year.