Paywalls now affect one-third of daily newspaper readers

Ebyline Blog
Peter C. Beller combined News & Tech’s list of newspapers that charge for online access with circulation figures to get a bird’s-eye view of which newspapers are building paywalls. About 16 percent of daily papers now charge for online access, but that covers twice as many readers, he says:

While just 239 of the nation’s 1,532 dailies have (or have announced) paywalls, they represent around a third of all daily readers. That’s because of the 20 largest newspapers by circulation, nine are or will be behind paywalls, representing 51% of that readership.

Paywall implementation drops off for smaller papers:

Under 100,000 circulation only 21% of readers are affected, under 50,000 the share is 19% and under 25,000 the figure is just 16%. You might be inclined to shrug off the small newspapers in that last group but they are the bulk of the industry: two out of three daily newspapers have circulations under 25,000.

He concludes that “nearly all the biggest newspaper chains are on board,” which correlates with what I found in May. Once the Chicago Tribune starts charging for online access, 84 percent of its print circulation will have a corresponding paywall; that figure is just 12 percent for MediaNews.

Related: Oil City Derrick releases monthly paywall revenues to show pattern | Gannett expands paywalls to 10 more papers in Wisconsin (Dane 101) | More than 22,000 sign up for Chicago Tribune’s paywall in three days (Time Out Chicago)

Previous: Gannett expects its paywalls to add $100 million in profit by end of 2012 (Poynter)

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • Kyle Communications

    Beller’s list is very incomplete. We did a survey in Indiana awhile back (just after Gannett announced paywalls for The Indianapolis Star), and found that 30 Indiana weekly and daily newspapers across the state were already charging for digital content. Some are very small and have been doing so for years. The bigs are late to the game as opposed to community newspapers.


  • tomthumb015

    Mm 1 third of USA newspapers? there is also big world out there?

  • Matthew Hensley

    News & Tech’s list appears to be woefully incomplete, at least for N.C. papers, and seems dated (how many newspapers are owned by Media General now?) for something supposedly updated June 26.

    Off the top of my head, here are a few omitted N.C. papers: The (Lenoir) News-Topic, The (Forest City) Daily Courier, The (Henderson) Daily Dispatch, The Sanford Herald, The (Morganton) News Herald, The McDowell News, Mooresville Tribune The (Concord) Independent Tribune (first four are Paxton, second four are World Media), The (Raeford) News-Journal and The Goldsboro News-Argus.

    Doing a quick comparison to the N.C. Press Association’s membership list, I found that at least 13 of the 45 daily newspapers (or 28.9%) that are members of the N.C. Press Association have paywalls, or will soon. I imagine that other states saw similar lapses and that the actual number of dailies behind paywalls could be 25% or more.

  • Joe Pallas

    You might want to fix that headline.  “Newspaper readers” still means people looking at ink on pulp to most of us.

  • Joe Pallas

    You might want to fix that headline.  “Newspaper readers” still means people looking at ink on pulp to most of us.