April 8, 2020

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Free Press to roll out affordable, user-driven access to news

27-cent cost per article comes with money-back guarantee

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/3/2015 (1839 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One of the bigger stories over the past week involved what the CRTC called a "roadmap to maximize choice and affordability" for Canadians when it came to watching TV.

Essentially, the broadcast regulator is giving cable viewers new control over their remotes and their wallets in a move widely hailed as a win for consumers. The centrepiece of this new approach was the introduction of à la carte channel selection as the CRTC tried to respond to not only consumer frustration over cable and satellite packages that had become too large and costly, but also the realities facing the media in the Internet age.

A look at the new Winnipeg Free Press digital platform

A look at the new Winnipeg Free Press digital platform

Hmmm, that sounds surprisingly similar to the new approach we are about to launch at winnipegfreepress.com.

Let’s start with our own 27-cent solution for choice and affordability.

The old-school thinking behind selling newspapers was tied to subscription packages because it worked so well for so long. And if you're among the many readers who love their six-day print subscription as well as reading online, little will change: your all-access digital pass is included.

Alas, the Internet came along and not only blew up everyone’s business model, but also fundamentally changed consumer behaviour.  Many readers now read only online.

In response, this 143-year-old institution is about to show you a few new tricks.

While we are offering an all-access digital pass for $16.99 per month that includes an optional free copy of Saturday’s paper, we recognized we also had to offer something different that reflects the realities of online purchasing practices. In other words, why pay to read the contents of the entire website when all you want to read is what you want to read?

And that’s why we are introducing a pick-and-pay model, priced at 27 cents per story, that is a first for news websites in North America. Once you’ve logged in, you can read as much or as little as you like based on what you want to spend. A walleting system will track each 27-cent purchase, and at the end of the month, your credit card will be charged.

Our 27-cent solution gives you the control to build your own bundle of Free Press content. If you are a Winnipeg Jets fan, then you can assemble a month’s worth of game stories and Gary Lawless analysis that will cost you as little as $8.00. If you enjoy reading Marion Warhaft’s weekly restaurant reviews, that will be another $1.08 over the course of a month. On the other hand, if you are a political junkie, your à la carte dining can start with Mia Rabson’s column from our bureau on Parliament Hill and the award-winning Key of Bart video for only 54 cents per week.

In setting the price-per-read at 27 cents we were looking for a number that wasn’t too high or too low. We settled on two bits plus two cents as the Goldilocks pricing point we hope will be just right.

But there is also some analysis to back up that price point as a huge swath of casual readers to our website tend to dine on an average of 15 articles per month. Under our new pick-and-pay system, reading 15 articles works out to only $4.05 a month, an amount we figure will compare favourably to other options from competing paid websites.

We recognize some of those competing news websites allow 10 free views per month before you hit their paywall. But what good is a news portal if, after reading 10 stories, you then have to lock in a subscription or wait until the beginning of the next month when you are no longer blocked from reading?

Breaking new ground isn’t easy and isn’t without risks. But we want our pay-per-view option to be a no-risk one for our readers so that’s why it comes with a money-back guarantee. That’s right, if you don’t like what you read, just hit the refund button and you’ll get a 27-cent credit put into your wallet.

We know Winnipeggers love a deal. So the deal we’re offering requires no up-front commitment, no minimum purchase and a satisfaction guarantee.

We’re standing by to listen to your two cents' worth on our 27-cent solution.


Paul Samyn is the Free Press Editor.




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Updated on Friday, March 27, 2015 at 3:53 PM CDT: Adds information about six-day subscribers, and that the Saturday print edition is optional.

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