Another Failed Paywall Bites The Dust; Daily Variety Goes Free

from the so-much-for-that-plan dept

Two and a half years ago, Daily Variety, the big Hollywood trade magazine, basically ceded the entire online world to its main competitor, The Hollywood Reporter, by putting up a paywall. At the time, it bizarrely claimed that doing so would mean it wouldn’t have to cover “gossip, half-truths and anonymous rants.” Apparently, you have to do that sort of thing if you don’t have a paywall. Who knew? Of course, the reality was that, over the past few years, The Hollywood Reporter has established itself as a massive online presence with quality reporting, while Daily Variety basically became an also-ran that no one cared about anymore… leading to its recent sale. The new owners have announced that the paywall will be coming down, and reporters there were thrilled:

Many Variety reporters and editors have been frustrated that their content is less read online than that of competitors such as the Hollywood Reporter and Penske-owned Deadline, in part because it is only available to paying subscribers.

Attendees at the meeting in Variety’s mid-Wilshire Boulevard office applauded when Penske said he would remove the publication’s digital paywall.

It appears the reporters there recognize that relevance is kind of important in the media business — and charging too much for information that your competitors are delivering (often in a better format) for free just isn’t a way to remain relevant.

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Comments on “Another Failed Paywall Bites The Dust; Daily Variety Goes Free”

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My concern is that the DV will continue its decline after removing the paywall. The paywall has already done its job by chasing former readers and writers to the competition. Users still have it blocked in news aggregators because the don’t like browsing into paywalls. Good reporting might save the Daily Variety, but now it has to rebuild in a crowded market.


I love that the paywall has proven it’s lack of worth. Whenever I run into one, a few minutes of searching on the net turns up something similar without having to bother with the paywall. They have the right to charge for access to their site; just don’t expect the walls to be beaten down by those wanting access.

Like with the entertainment businesses they are finding out not giving the market what it wants, the way it wants it, doesn’t come out to make a winner. Trolls trying their dangest to disrupt the community as they comment is mere proof that the industry is reeling from it’s own disasters. As long as they don’t want to seek a new method of business, it is my hope to see them go bankrupt, taking the trolls down the drain with them.



Actually, this paywall didn’t work because it was very much a hard paywall, and didn’t really serve to fix anything for them. There are plenty of free sources for the same information online, and those sources are original and self-supporting (think TMZ as an example for gossip, and box office mojo for the numbers and such).

They forgot that what they were doing wasn’t unique.

Now, on the other hand, newspaper paywalls (especially soft ones) do seem to be working out so far. How do you address that?

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re:

Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. I don’t know, and don’t really care.

I do know that paywalls stop me from reading news articles. Not because of the cost, but because of the hassle. I’m not going to create an account on any but a tiny fraction of sites I go to, free or not.

However, I’m not anti-paywall at all and can think of several types of straight news sites I would pay for if they existed (but they don’t). I even have an account, and pay cash money for a subscription, here on TechDirt despite the fact that I could read everything anonymously and for free.


Re: Re:

Those pay-walls that are “working ” are normally sites that have got there regular readers to pay. It is the people that subscribed to have the newspaper delivered every day and for people stuck in the rut of only reading a few specific newspapers.

For the majority of people , who probably hardly ever paid for a subscription , one site is not enough, people these days want different opinions on a story and they want comments which a lot of the bigger newspapers do not allow.

So yes the pay-walls are working in a small way but overall the Internet will eventually teach those people subscribing that the same or even better news sources are only a click away and they are free.


Re: Re: Re:

Good points, and I tend to agree.

I think though it’s worth pointing out that successful “paywalls” are about on par with successful alternate music business models. There are good ones and poor ones, winners and losers. So while there is plenty of praise here for the rare successful music business model, there is nothing but scorn for subscription services. It’s really too bad, because subscription services appear to have some legs.


I think that monetizing directly over their content by restricting access is simply not feasible anymore. They should focus on different approaches all the time relying on old good advertising (but neither too intrusive nor in huge amounts). I thought of some ideas:

– A Flattr like approach where people can chip cents to the stories they find worth and the journalists (and their crew) that are worth it.
– A patronage system where people would chip in whatever amount they felt like per month to sponsor their favorite writers.
– A community driven forum allowing anonymous postings for the discussion of articles and stuff happening around the world.
– A Techdirt style “insider” badge with which people would get direct access to their favorite journalists and get to take a peek in what they are working.

It should be noted that providing raw news that something happened is fairly easy, the hard part is what journalism is: to investigate what lead to what happened, what’s behind the scenes, giving good, comprehensive analysis.. For that I will fork a few dollars yes.

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