You can charge £10 a month online, unless you’re the FT

Researching a training course I’m delivering tomorrow at City Lit,* I’ve found that publishers with a paywall tend to charge about £10 a month/£120 annually for online access – with the exception of the Financial Times. It charges £276 a year for its basic digital service (often discounted to £208 as an introductory offer), but as well as a source of news and comment, it also works as a lightweight business intelligence tool covering major companies and industries.

For general interest publications, the cost clusters around £10 a month. The Times’ £2 a week online access options are branded as the Sunday packs, but these include seven-day access to the website (the ‘Digital Pack’ costs three times as much). The New York Times, which now has more than 2.3 million digital subscribers, offers UK pricing of a tenner every four weeks, while the Telegraph’s Premium service covering some of its articles costs £2 a week.

The Spectator and the Economist, weekly print titles that publish substantially more online for subscribers, both offer the paper version as well for just a little more (£138 for the Speccie, £142 for the Economist) to encourage you to take both.

It may not be a coincidence that £9.99 a month is what Spotify, which has more than 50 million paying subscribers worldwide, charges for its ad-free service in the UK. If the Guardian does decide to put up a paywall – reportedly, a plan B it hopes never to need – this is probably what it should charge.

* There are also places remaining on my Federation of Entertainment Unions course on using data in freelance business in Bristol on 9 August – click here to apply by Thursday 3 August.

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