Washington Post paywall will launch June 12

The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s new paywall “will be phased in over a period of several weeks beginning June 12,” the company announced Wednesday.

Home delivery subscribers will have free access to the Post’s digital products. Others will pay $9.99 a month for desktop and mobile access and $14.99/month for a “Digital Premium” package that “includes access to all of The Post’s custom apps.”

Currently, the Post offers the first year of a Sunday-only subscription in the D.C. area for $3.16 per month, a price that rises to $7.40 per month afterward.

“Once the subscription service launches, you will initially be able to view 20 pieces of content per month before being asked to subscribe,” Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth writes in a letter to readers.

Whether or not you subscribe, we will not limit your ability to view The Post’s homepage and section front pages, watch videos or search classified advertising. In addition, readers who come to The Post through search engines or shared links will be able to access the linked page regardless of the number of articles they have previously viewed.


Keach Hagey reported last December the paper would introduce a paywall in 2013, and the paper sort of confirmed the report not long afterward.

The Post’s Steven Mufson reported many details about the paywall, which he called “modest compared with moves by some other publications.”

Last July, Washington Post Company Chairman Don Graham made a case against a paywall at the paper: “Graham explained that 90% of the Post’s audience is outside of the Washington area—but that the paper itself has only local distribution—so the premise simply doesn’t make sense,” Jennifer Reingold reported.

The paper polled people on potential paywall package price points, Michael Neibauer reported in February:

There were three options, say the recipient — seven-day delivery and unlimited Web access for $24.95 a month, unlimited Web access without a print subscription for $14.95 a month, and Sunday delivery plus unlimited Web access for $7.95 a month.

Regular readers of the Post’s iPad app will note this announcement brings a dose of honesty to the program’s welcome screen, which announces a sponsor “has provided your complimentary subscription this month.”

Full announcement:

WASHINGTON—June 5, 2013—The Washington Post today announced that its metered subscription model will be phased in over a period of several weeks beginning June 12. The Post plans to implement the meter to random selections of readers to ensure they have the best possible experience.

The metered model will initially require a paid subscription after 20 articles or multimedia features have been viewed per month. Digital packages will be priced at $9.99 per month for access to the desktop and mobile web and $14.99 for the Digital Premium package, which also includes access to all of The Post’s custom apps.

“Over the coming months, we will learn more about how everything is working, listen to reader feedback and modify our model accordingly,” said Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, The Washington Post. “There is going to be a great deal of experimentation ahead to strike the right balance between ensuring access to critical news and information and building a sustainable business.”

Home delivery subscribers will continue to have complimentary access to all of The Post’s digital products. Access to The Post’s homepage, section front pages, videos and classified advertising will not be limited for any readers.

Students, teachers, school administrators, government employees and military personnel will have unlimited access to The Post’s digital content while in their schools and workplaces. In addition, visitors who come to The Post through search engines or shared links will still be able to access the linked page regardless of the number of articles they have previously viewed.

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  • http://www.welovedc.com/ Don Whiteside

    I don’t think anyone but you used the word “gotcha” and I don’t think being unaware about the inner workings of any business makes a person brain-dead. It simply makes them an outsider who doesn’t really give a crap about the intricacies of what happens inside. Mostly I don’t see why any of us should care.

    If a restaurant starts putting out notices about how they’re going to have to double prices because their napkin costs have gone up, however, then I’m going to call bullshit if that’s 1% of their total cost outlays.

    I have lost track of how many times I have seen reporters respond to people online by saying that if they value the reporting “then buy a paper.” The obvious implication being that the purchasing of a single copy represents something significant, when in fact one-off sales represent little – if any – profit. Subscriptions are far more valuable for the numbers they represent to show advertisers.

    But put all that aside. Why have a notice about complimentary subscription on an electronic edition and not a print one? I don’t think the readers are brain dead but this sort of misdirection is somewhere between sleazy and brain dead.

  • sargeh

    A reader would have to be brain dead not to be aware of the role advertising plays in producing and marketing a newspaper. Your comments don’t exactly constitute a “gotcha.”

  • http://www.welovedc.com/ Don Whiteside

    ” a dose of honesty to the program’s welcome screen, which announces a sponsor “has provided your complimentary subscription this month.””

    If that represents honesty then where’s the accompanying line on the print edition that says “your monthly subscription fees are a pittance compared to the ad revenue that has always supported the newspaper model?” I’m all in favor of news finding its way to a model that will allow it to continue. But this ongoing effort to whitewash away the reality of how newspapers have always been financed is an offensive bit of disingenuousness from a business that’s supposed to be about truth.

    I’m sure that convincing people that they’ve been “getting their news free” the last ten years on the internet is great for business & marketing folks trying to change the model and bring in more substantial revenues from readers. But it’s dishonest to pretend that readers haven’t ALWAYS been getting their news for “free” via an ad subsidized model.

    Even as this plan to limit online readers to 20 stories a month the Post is sending out notices to Sunday-only subscribers offering them daily delivery for free for 32 weeks – most of a year. It’s critically important you pay for your news! Unless it’s printed on paper and distributed by car using a delivery chain involving lots of people!