Top Story

Home >> Media–Print >> Article

Era of ad-free news in the works? Encouraging reception to Business Standard's pay wall over the past 10 months

31-March-2017
Font Size   16
Era of ad-free news in the works? Encouraging reception to Business Standard's pay wall over the past 10 months

On June 1 last year, Business Standard embarked on a path less taken. As one of the foremost business newspapers in the country, it decided to enact a pay wall on its website. Though the Indian newspaper industry is dominated by a few players, there is no denying of its vastness. In March 2014, the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) placed the number of registered newspapers in the country at 99,660. However, the courage which Business Standard has exhibited by choosing to experiment with a pay wall is not to be found in most of the domestic newspapers.

“We introduced the pay wall on June 1, 2016 and it is consistently being strengthened. We recently moved the e-paper which was the only standalone product to behind the common pay wall,” said Shailendra Kalelkar, Digital Business Head at Business Standard Limited. Presently, news reports which are exclusively published by Business Standard are pay wall protected while aggregated news items coming from wire agencies are freely accessible on the website.

Business Standard’s management decided to take the route after closely observing the digital approach of global publishers who “have gone pay some time” ago and “are bullish about their strategy.” The initiative is strongly backed by its editors and network of content creators. “Business Standard has always been respected for its content and we believe discerning consumers do not mind paying a small price. The central idea behind introducing a pay wall is to be able to invest in the premium product for the benefit of our primary stakeholders i.e. readers,” added Kalelkar.

The initial response to the pay wall has emboldened BS further. Though Kalelkar declined to reveal the subscription revenues since the pay wall was put into place owing to “competitive and other reasons,” he did mention that the results were encouraging. “As of now we have been an outlier in this segment and I must mention that the numbers are small to talk about. In the same breath, they are encouraging for us to invest and strengthen the product,” he said.

Besides restricting the access of exclusive content to subscribers, BS is also experimenting with other ways of content monetisation. Audience engagement programmes for premium subscribers is a big “focus area” for the organisation. The impetus for this was provided by the healthy reception to a post-budget event organised exclusively for premium subscribers.

Like most print media giants, the feeling at Business Standard is that print is here to stay despite the emergence of digital journalism. “While consumers are actively consuming content over varied platforms, print in India will continue to remain relevant for some time to come. At Business Standard we believe that both print and digital will complement each other for some time to come,” said Kalelkar. With the menace of fake news threatening credible media brands, he recognised the significance of editors to pick up relevant information for readers.

The newspaper is mindful of the fact that the road which it has chosen for itself might not suit rival media houses. “While it is for individual players to decide their strategy, any move in this direction will only help the industry become stronger in time,” he stressed. Like Business Standard, Abhinandan Sekhri’s digital news venture too decided to place their most popular offerings behind the pay wall from the beginning of the New Year. Speaking earlier to exchange4media regarding the viability of a pay wall in the Indian media, his words were similar to those of Kalelkar. “It depends on your product and model. There is no one thing that all need to or should do,” said Sekhri, Co-founder & CEO, Newslaundry.

In the magazine space, Outlook has shown indications of making consumers get into the habit of paying for news since January by selling daily passes for an ad-free experience of its website. Given the size of the print industry, very few publications like Business Standard and Outlook are seeking to develop an alternative to the advertisement model in the online space. Their success will not just depend on the uniqueness of the content they publish but also the consumer’s larger approach towards pay-walled news content and information, which is otherwise freely available.

Tags Business Standard Shailendra Kalelkar

Varun Raina, Marketing Manager, Airbnb India speaks to exchange4media about the successful #LiveThere campaign and how Bollywood helps them connect with its young consumer

Tim Castree is all praises for his team in India and trusts it to be a result of “an excellent execution of agency’s global strategy” headed by Kartik Sharma

Siddharth Dabhade says Criteo’s technology allows brands to engage with shoppers, create relevant experience on retail apps, thereby driving sales and profits

Shantanu Gangane says OTT platform Viu plans around 20+ originals and is all set to enter the Tamil market with a mix of syndicated and original content

right
left
OFF THE CUFF HAS JOURNALIST ARUN SHOURIE IN CONVERSATION WITH SHEKHAR GUPTA IN MUMBAI IAA HOSTS FIRST INDIAA REGIONAL AWARDS (TELUGU) IN HYDERABAD BREAK THE CEILING TOUCH THE SKY 2018 SEES OVERWHELMING INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION 10TH EDITION OF ABC EUREKA AWARDS IN MUMBAI CELEBRATES WORK OF PARTNER AGENCIES EMINENT JURY PICKS LOUDEST’S 100 MOST POWERFUL INDIAN MUSIC BUSINESS LEADERS MODE LOFT BY SABGROUP LAUNCHES SIGNATURE MENSWEAR POWER DRESSING CLOTHING LINE TOP MARKETERS DISCUSS ART AND SCIENCE OF EFFECTIVE LISTENING @PITCH CMO SUMMIT 2018, DELHI THIRD SEASON OF ‘INDIA’S TOP DIGITAL PLANNERS’ RECOGNIZES EXCELLENCE IN THE DIGITAL INDUSTRY WOMEN ECONOMIC FORUM 2018 SEES DISTINGUISHED GLOBAL PERSONALITIES IN ATTENDANCE PEPPER CREATIVE AWARDS 2018 RECOGNIZE THE BEST IN ADVERTISING IN SOUTH INDIA RADIO CITY’S POWER OF RADIO MEET HOSTS TOP ADVERTISING INDUSTRY LEADERS TOP INDUSTRY PERSONALITIES ATTEND ZOOM-MYNTRA EVENING TO CELEBRATE THEIR PARTNERSHIP LEADING MARKETERS, EXPERTS SHARE INSIGHTS ON DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION @ADOBE SYMPOSIUM IN MUMBAI NICKELODEON TRADE PARTY SEES MARKETING INDUSTRY LEADERS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN ATTENDANCE GOLDEN MIKES RADIO ADVERTISING AWARDS 2018 RECOGNIZE INDUSTRY’S MOST DESERVING ACHIEVERS AIMA MANAGING INDIA AWARDS HONOUR THE BEST IN THE INDUSTRY BW BUSINESSWORLD’S GREAT INDIA DEBATE BRINGS TOGETHER INTELLECTUALS ACROSS INDUSTRY SECTORS BW BUSINESSWORLD SMART CITIES CONCLAVE PATNA 2018 SEES EMINENT INDUSTRY LEADERS IN ATTENDANCE EMINENT JURY PICKS WINNERS OF GOLDEN MIKES RADIO ADVERTISING AWARDS MADDYS 2018 SEE TOP ADVERTISING AND MARKETING INDUSTRY LEADERS IN ATTENDANCE

Bharti-Airtel issued a statement claiming the apex court dismissed Jio’s petition granting Airtel a partial reprieve over its IPL advertising campaign

Hareesh Tibrewala explains how Block Chain technology can help monetize your digital footprint, as per your own rules, instead of a 3rd party doing it

Kavinder Singh talks about the brand’s advertising and marketing strategy and tells us how it has has played an integral role in the rise in its standalone net profit to Rs 38.55 crore