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Regional daily introduces new paywall in fresh pursuit of digital revenue

Sarah Lester 2023A regional daily is introducing a paywall on two of its apps – but will keep its website completely free to read.

The Manchester Evening News has confirmed changes to its MEN Premium and Manchester United News apps, with readers having to take out a subscription if they read more than 25 stories in a week via the service.

The Premium app was launched last year as an entirely paid-for service at a cost of £1.99 a month, allowing users who subscribed to read stories advertisement-free.

However, the requirement to pay for the app has now been dropped unless readers trigger the 25-story limit within a week. The subscription for reading additional stories costs £2.99 a month, or £19.99 if paid for annually.

In an editorial announcing the change, MEN editor Sarah Lester confirmed all content on the title’s website will remain free to access.

Sarah, pictured, wrote: “Advertising is important to us. We need it to pay for our journalists and to keep our site free. But it’s so important to us that you enjoy visiting us – and that your experience of reading our pages is smooth and easy.

“We always want to innovate. And that’s why we’re excited to tell you about how our app is evolving.”

“We have thought long and hard about asking you to pay for our work. But that’s the way that we can bring you more of what you like.”

MEN owner Reach plc previously experimented with an online paywall trial at the Huddersfield Daily Examiner that came to an end after five months in February 2020.

The same year, the Liverpool Echo offered the option for readers to make a voluntary contribution towards its journalism.

Reach audience transformation director Martin Little told HTFP: “We’re proud to be offering this premium app experience to our MEN and Man United app audiences and early reader feedback has so far been encouraging.

“As always, it’s important that we continue to keep experimenting, both with reader experience and with revenue opportunities, and this year we expect to explore premium options with more of our most popular brands.”