Updated: Baltimore Sun to put up paywall next month

Romenesko+ Memos | Baltimore Sun (Letter to Readers) | Baltimore Sun
The Sun tells readers that the paywall goes up October 10. “To encourage readers to sign up at launch, we will offer a special introductory rate of 99 cents for the first 4 weeks,” says publisher Tim Ryan. “After that, digital-only subscribers will have a cost of $2.49 a week or $49.99 for 26 weeks. Print subscribers will receive a special reduced rate of 75 cents a week or $29.99 a year. Non-subscribers will have free access to 15 web pages a month. The Sun is the first Tribune paper to announce digital subscriptions. | Jay Hancock: The Sun will count links from social media and other websites as part of a user’s monthly allotment of 15 views.

Sun publisher Tim Ryan’s memo

To all BSMG employees:

I wanted to let you know about an important change that we will be making to The Baltimore Sun’s website in the coming weeks.

On October 10, we will begin offering digital subscriptions to baltimoresun.com. Purchasing a digital subscription will allow our customers to view an unlimited number of pages, including articles, blogs, photos and videos. Those who do not subscribe will have free access to 15 pages each month. If they exceed that limit, we will ask them to become digital subscribers.

Since its launch in 1996, baltimoresun.com has established itself as Maryland’s #1 local news website, drawing more readers than any other local media company. In August 2011, the site was viewed a record number of times, earning 52 million page views from 4.8 million unique users. During 2010, baltimoresun.com received nearly 500 million page views. The site has averaged annual site traffic growth of 39%, demonstrating our ability to keep readers coming back regularly to stay informed.

As the numbers clearly show, digital consumers recognize the website’s value. We are confident they will subscribe to maintain access to all of our unique, in-depth local news and information, and we will continue to innovate in ways that provide those readers with the news they want, the way they want it.

Many other media companies, including the New York Times, Dallas Morning News and Boston Globe, currently offer digital subscriptions. We believe our expertise in creating and delivering high-quality news positions baltimoresun.com to better serve our customers in the Baltimore area.

To encourage readers to sign up at launch, we will offer a special introductory rate of 99 cents for the first 4 weeks. After that, digital-only subscribers will have a cost of $2.49 a week or $49.99 for 26 weeks. Print subscribers will receive a special reduced rate of 75 cents a week or $29.99 a year.

Remember, the tremendous growth at baltimoresun.com is certainly the result of the hard work and creativity of everyone here at BSMG. Your focus and dedication to serving our customers, both readers and advertisers, has enabled us to successfully extend our franchise in the digital space while complementing our efforts in print. To keeping winning, we need to move quickly to seize more opportunities like this. I know you are up to challenge.

I look forward to working with you during this important launch at BSMG.


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  • Anonymous

    Absolutely stunning that The Sun would reward loyal print subscribers — who have held on despite the endless erosion in quality — with a fee for web content. The Times — which does still deliver a  first class product — understands that print subscribers remain their most devoted readers, the last ones you want to antagonize.  This only proves how delusional Tim Ryan and The Tribune are about the value of their product. 

  • Thomas Schammel

    What a bunch of complete buffoons. They claim to draw that many viewers but can’t seem to make their website profitable or even break-even – like many other sites? 
    How do traditional papers charge for advertisement? Based on viewership/readership, right? I’m not going to be the “YOU’VE JUST LOST ME FOREVER” guys, but I’ll say this – I’m not paying to view information on a site that has advertisements – EVER.

  • Rick Henry

    If I must start paying, I do NOT want to see the stupid ad’s that move the page layout.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nora-Rich/550790647 Nora Rich

    Good luck getting money that way. I has a years subscription for a penny of the real paper version that ran out a few months ago. I didn’t renew. I get all the news I want free from other media. The sun has been a dog for years, I probably would not pay a penny to have it again for a year

  • Not a puffin

    Will be interesting to see how lesser brands like The Sun are able to make pay walls stick. The trick to the metered approach is that a bulk of the audience isn’t affected, so ad revenues only dip a bit. And depending on how you package print and digital (particularly by assembling an attractive weekend print package that gives digital access for about the price of digital only), you can even pop your print numbers. But given the massive circ slides that The Sun has experienced in recent years, particularly in its daily numbers, would this open the door to its southern neighbor (still free, although poor in Baltimore coverage)?

  • Anonymous

    Will the talk forum users have to pay?