How well are Canadian newspapers doing with paywalls, tablets?

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor

Are paywalls the gamble that will save the newspaper industry? Is a free tablet app the way to go? It’s too early to know what works as an online strategy, but we did get a glimpse into how some newspapers have been faring at the Canadian Journalism Foundation J-Talk on turning digital into dollars. Here’s what La Presse editor-in-chief André Pratte; Gerry Nott, Postmedia Network’s senior vice-president for the eastern region; The Globe and Mail’s publisher Phillip Crawley and Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank had to say about their respective news organizations.

On tablet/mobile apps:

  • La Presse: Its tablet publication has been downloaded to 400,000 tablets with 120,000 daily readers since its launch in September 2013. (The newspaper invested $40 million in the app over the course of two years, which is offered free of charge).
  • Postmedia Network: 58 per cent of its online traffic comes from mobile devices. The Ottawa Citizen will launch a new tablet edition this spring.
  • The Globe and Mail: Roughly 40 per cent of the newspaper’s traffic comes from mobile devices.

On paywalls:

  • The Globe and Mail: 110,000 people have signed up for Globe Unlimited, of which half are digital-only subscribers (i.e., they don’t have a print subscription that entitles them to free online access). Roughly 75 per cent of readers who are converting to digital subscriptions are coming to the site for Report on Business content.
  • Postmedia Network: Of its 137,000 paywall subscribers, about 45,000 are digital-only subscribers.
  • Cruickshank said it was too early to talk numbers, given that the newspaper only launched its paywall in August 2013.
  • Pratte said La Presse won’t go the paywall route, but they might have considered it if Radio-Canada/CBC did not provide free online content.

Recap the full live blog here.

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