The continued reluctance to put up paywalls by Indian news media is in spite of suggestions a year ago that it was an inevitability. “Anybody who tells you in the news media industry that they won’t be taking the subscription route is either lying or soon going to be bankrupt,” said Rajiv Bansal, head of the Hindustan Times’ Digital Streams to exchange4media in May 2018.
Shy of paywalls, there are some signs that Indian newspapers, magazines and web news platforms are figuring out other ways to monetize the internet. They are resorting to referral revenues for services to monetize the internet, such as dining out and investment.
However, it is inevitable that paywalls and subscriptions will have to play a role. This is in spite of some feedback that IppStar has already received about the reluctance of most news organizations to bite the bullet. Some say that they will continue to rely on ad revenue, others that the market is not ready to pay for news, and still others that say they have plans that they cannot yet talk about.
Dailies such as The Hindu and Business Line have begun by setting up subscriptions for their ePaper while Business Standard is monetizing its premium content with a dynamic paywall. Looking for these stories shows the headline and a couple of sentences followed by, ‘Key stories on business-standard.com are available to premium subscribers only.’ The Caravan magazine has put up a dynamic paywall and has already gathered more than 3,000 digital subscriptions.
The new platforms on the web seem bolder since they don’t have any print revenues to lean on. The Ken is a subscription-only site, The Scroll has launched an ad-free subscription and Newslaundry has moved some of its content behind a paywall. The Wire is trying out an interactive banner asking for donations similar to The Guardian.
Meanwhile, IppStar, the leading organization for detailed primary research of the Indian publishing, printing and packaging industry, has initiated a quick snapshot survey of digital subscriptions of South Asian newspapers, magazines and news platforms. While seminars, conferences and webinars on digital subscriptions are all the rage, it seems that South Asia is lagging behind on the monetization of digital content.
Purva Dwivedi, analyst at IppStar asks, “Where are we on this critical subject in South Asia? While publishers keep repeating that they have to produce content that is worth paying for, what is holding them back from building paywalls? And, we are keen to share the initial results of the few who have put up paywalls, and kept them up.” A snapshot of the results will be published on our platforms, including our print monthly Indian Printer & Publisher. The survey is also available on www.ippstar.org.
Or you can fill out the Paywall survey online by simply click here.