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Newspaper ends online paywall trial ahead of ‘Live’ expansion

Wayne Ankers newsA regional daily has ended a five-month online paywall trial which it says has showed a “large number” of readers are happy to pay for news.

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner has brought to an end the pilot project, which saw its Examiner Live website charge 25p for access to some articles up to a maximum charge of £1 per week.

Breaking news and traffic and travel information remained free, as well as some court and crime stories.

Examiner editor Wayne Ankers, left, said the experiment had shown “a large number” of readers were happy to pay for online news, but he has not so far responded to a request from HTFP to provide the actual figures.

The Examiner said it had ended the trial ahead of a planned expansion by owner Reach plc into other areas of Yorkshire – where it is set to launch new sites under its ‘Live’ brand for Bradford, North Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.

The trial was run with digital payment service Axate, which enables news titles to implement paywalls without requiring website users to take out subscriptions.

Wayne said in an announcement to readers: “The pilot project has allowed Examiner Live to learn a lot about our audience and we now know more than ever about the types of online content you value the most.

“It has been a really interesting experiment and it showed to us that a large number of people living and working in Huddersfield and Kirklees are happy to pay for a news, entertainment and information service.

“Now is the time to bring an end to this experiment as our parent company Reach plc has launched exciting expansion plans across Yorkshire. We are investing in regional journalism to launch new sites in Bradford, South Yorkshire and North Yorkshire and the Examiner will be at the heart of these expansion plans.

“Under the trial with Axate a lot of our content remained free, but it now means that all the content you love will return to being free of any charges from Monday 3 February.”

12 comments

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  • February 4, 2020 at 10:58 am
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    Nobody wants to pay for regional news as the quality and quantity isn’t worth the money. £52 a year to look at a website clearly didn’t work, probably lost more revenue from advertisers who didn’t get seen, the real reason for the switch back. No surprise Wayne Ankers isn’t open with the figures.

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  • February 4, 2020 at 11:05 am
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    What a load of tosh. The Examiner is now one of, if not the, lowest circulation dailies in the country. If they’re not careful it will go the way of their former neighbour, the Oldham Chronicle.

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  • February 4, 2020 at 11:56 am
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    No-one wants to pay for Internet news. Ppl believe you only pay for things bought off Amazon or Ebay. Advertisers don’t like net news as most ppl use their phones to access it and ads are either too small, annoying pop-ups or blocked by ad blockers. The big companies have been trying for over 10 years to monetise the net and are no further forward. Time to pack in chasing the digital dragon and put out top quality print products. The evidence is damning… Digital don’t work!

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  • February 4, 2020 at 12:32 pm
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    Let this car crash, pulled before its trial period was over, be a lesson to those regional publishers considering implementing paywalls not to do it,I’ll say it again, after almost two decades of trying you CANNOT monetise online regional news!

    This was always going to be a disaster waiting to happen which it appears everyone apart from those associated with it could see or would admit, it wasn’t such a failure they’d at least continue with the paywall until its trial period has ended but the situation and fallout must have been far worse than expected and the fact it’s been dropped says it all.

    If I’m wrong perhaps editor Ankers will give HTFP the numbers of paying subscribers who DID pay to view as I’d be very interested to see how many and how much revenue was attained.
    ….I’ll wait

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  • February 4, 2020 at 1:11 pm
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    This will come as no surprise to anyone, parochial paywalls simply do not work.
    The public won’t pay and the ad reps can’t generate enough commercial interest to fund them so for the editor to try to pass this off to the public as anything but lack of interest in the Examiners content and a huge vote of no confidence is insulting.

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  • February 4, 2020 at 1:15 pm
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    DDH, I think we can safely say that no one wants to pay for local news!

    Digital paywalls don’t work at a local level, only with niche national content like the FT. However, the decline of print even before the ‘digital revolution’ demonstrates how little people value ‘quality’ local news.

    Local news, in print or digital, don’t work!

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  • February 4, 2020 at 2:11 pm
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    @oliver. Where I live, most weekly papers are doing OK by being traditional. The only papers that are comepletely failing are JPI titles which have cut staff to unworkable levels in some cases have NO photo budgets at all and websites that are dull and lifeless and virtually ad free. It wasn’t broken, why fix it.

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  • February 4, 2020 at 2:40 pm
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    @DDD
    whether we like and accept it or not the public now consume their news 24/7 online

    Newspaper sales are in irrecoverable free fall,ad revenues are all but gone and contribute nowhere near the amount needed to fund the business or warrant the big commercial staff numbers they’re currently running with.
    The only exceptions to this and the ones succeeding are the new independent community newspapers operating on a hyper local level, often staffed by some of the best ex regional press people made redundant by the larger groups who’ve dumbed their online content down to such an extent that they’re actually driving readers and advertisers across to the newbies
    The three big issues highlighted with this unsurprising announcement are:
    1- the public aren’t prepared to pay for local news content when they can get more than enough from other sources online and for free thereby making regional press paywalls a complete non starter
    2- publishers over estimate the poparity of of their online news
    3- still no one is able to monetise local news either by attracting advertisers or, as here, through paying subscribers

    And until online content is greatly improved no one will

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  • February 4, 2020 at 3:35 pm
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    @The Dead Digital Horse

    Print is almost dead… it has been for years. The papers’ management was too slow to act and many of the people left in charge of them are the very people who have been grinding them into the ground. Plus the big advertising isn’t there, the very thing that print needs, no longer exists. Where are the pages and pages of estate agent adverts, all paying £1000-plus? They’ve gone… to Rightmove, Zoopla etc etc. Where are the job ads? They’ve gone online to Indeed and CV Library etc. Where are the small ads? Try looking at Craig’s List, Ebay or Amazon. And small businesses… have you seen the Yellow Pages?

    And so to digital. The problem isn’t the medium. Digital is the future, as sure as the newsprint did away with the town cryer. The problem is the system. Management heavy, bloated corporations, and they can’t figure out what to do. Makes you wonder if they are worth the money.

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  • February 4, 2020 at 3:42 pm
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    Pity there is no Freedom Of Information type system to compel managements to release subscription and circulation figures.
    We all know full well why they refuse to give them out – but so much for a free and open press that they purport to uphold.

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  • February 4, 2020 at 4:02 pm
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    Northender

    If they had nothing to hide and weren’t embarrassed by how few paid to view Reach would be prepared to share this information, the fact they are cagey tells us all we need to know

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