McClatchy to expand paywalls across chain in fourth quarter

The McClatchy Co.
McClatchy says it intends “to roll out a metered plan in the third quarter in five of our markets” in its press release about the company’s second-quarter earnings, and it will start charging at the rest of its papers in the fourth quarter.

We will offer readers a combined print and digital subscription package that will include access to web, certain mobile and replica editions for a relatively small increase to print home-delivery rates. We’ll also offer online-only digital subscriptions to users after they read a certain number of pages. Once the first wave is launched, we intend to expand this model to our other markets beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.

In an address to shareholders this past May, CEO Patrick J. Talamantes said the company’s experiments were an “ongoing search for that sweet spot – trying to capture additional subscription revenues without harming traffic or advertising revenues.” He cited the paywall at The Modesto Bee as one of the models the company was considering.

For the second quarter, the company reported net income of $26.9 million, more than five times the same quarter in 2011.

Print advertising was down 7.5 percent from the year before, which is a bit better than the first-quarter decline. Digital advertising was up 8.5 percent from the year before. Daily circulation was down 6 percent and Sunday circulation was down 5.2 percent; circulation revenues were down 2.4 percent.

CFO Elaine Lintecum said the company reduced its debt by $35 million in the second quarter, to $1.564 billion. New legislation revaluing pension obligations will allow the company to contribute less cash to pensions, Lintecum said.

Related: New York Times’ circulation revenue lags growth in digital subscriptions (Poynter) | Financial Times’ digital subscriptions exceed print circulation for first time (Pearson) | Columbus Dispatch exec says of new paywall, “I find it hard to believe we’re not worth the cost of a Coke” (Columbus Business First) | Paywalls now affect one-third of daily newspaper readers (Poynter)

Previously: McClatchy reports $2.1 million dollar net loss in first quarter (Poynter) | McClatchy to start testing paywalls (JimRomenesko.com)

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