Spectator announces end to paywall double-dip

*Disclosure: I’m currently a candidate for a web position at The Spectator. I unsuccessfully applied to CBC Hamilton. *

The Hamilton Spectator’s paywall is coming down – for print subscribers. TheSpec implemented a Press+ paywall in September. The “wall” allowed non-subscribers to view 35 “free” articles a month. Print subscribers were charged $2.95/mth and non-print subscribers $6.95/mth for access beyond the “free” limit.

I wrote an extensive analysis of the paywall and criticized the unusual decision to double-charge print subscribers for content. Today, in the print edition, Spectator editor Paul Berton announced print subscribers will have “free” access to the website, and those who paid extra will receive an automatic pro-rated refund.

For non-subscribers, the “free” limit is decreasing to 15 articles and the monthly web-only rate remains $6.95.

Not the American weekend print subscriber strategy

The $6.95 web-only rate is half the weekend-only print subscriber cost. In the United States, many publications are using their paywalls to push Sunday-only subscriptions. The price-point for web-only subscribers is greater than Sunday-only print subscriptions with “free” web access bundled.

American publications continue to enjoy healthy Sunday advertising revenue. Some publications have already adapted to the future by discontinuing daily print editions while maintaining robust 24/7 web news operations.