A lot of sites have struggled with paid content and the implementation of paywalls as customers switch largely to digital, and transitions to a web and app-based audience have not always been easy.
The New York Times profiled one success story, that may not even resonate as a creator of particularly sticky content- Consumer Reports. The company has transitioned rather seamlessly to the internet, growing its web business while not bleeding print subscribers in the process. According to the Times, Consumer Reports has maintained print subscription rates around four million since 2001- in an era during which many magazines have been decimated by the web- but also managed to grow their web subscriber rate by 500% in the past ten years. Subscription rates have jumped from 557,000 in 2001 to 3.3 million currently, and Bill Grueskin of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University- former managing editor of WSJ.com- suggests sticking to consistent pricing as well as demonstrated value helped:
“It isn’t much of a leap for people to pay $5.95 a month for access to a database that will help them make a wise purchase of a $500 dishwasher or a $25,000 car… It is much harder to get consumers — particularly those trained for the past 15 years to expect content for free — to pay for coverage of metro news, football games or politics.”
In addition, the Times says, Consumer Reports edges out the Wall Street Journal– the leading online newspaper, with six times as many subscribers.