Canada’s biggest English-language newspapers will all have paywalls in 2013

Torontoist | The Toronto Star | The Globe and Mail
A paywall is rising across the 49th parallel, Steve Kupferman writes. The Toronto Globe and Mail hoisted a metered paywall for domestic users last Monday.

The Globe’s attempts to provide added value for subscribers are a little weak, and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to get around the limit, he writes, but readers who can afford it should pay because it’s “the ethical thing to do, although nobody — not even the Globe — will really reward you for doing it.”

The Toronto Star on Monday announced it, too, will erect a paywall next year. Publisher John Cruickshank promises “new and innovative features on thestar.com, designed to provide a rich, multimedia experience that will satisfy the interests of readers and address the needs of advertisers.”

Postmedia Network Inc. properties including The Ottawa Citizen and The Vancouver Sun installed metered paywalls in August, and all the company’s papers, including the National Post, will have meters in place next year, Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey said in a conference call last week while discussing the company’s third-quarter earnings report. In an interview with Globe and Mail media reporter Steve Ladurantaye, Godfrey said:

“When you lose a dollar in print you don’t have to gain a dollar in digital. You need about 45 cents,” he said. “You don’t have newsprint costs, don’t have ink and distribution. When you start adding it all up, you begin to close that gap.”

When these paywalls in place, the Top 3 English-language newspapers in Canada will all have some sort of system for charging readers in print and online. That’s the same number of the Top 5 U.S. newspapers that have paywall, membership or subscription services in place. Combined circulation for the Canada papers is about 5 million, as of 2010. Combined circulation for the top three U.S. papers behind paywalls is 4.5 million.

Correction: This post originally attributed Godfrey’s quote to a conference call. It came during an interview with Steve Ladurantaye.

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