The Mail, Mirror and Future to keep online content free

Mail Online, Trinity Mirror and Future Publishing have said they will remain subscription-free, despite news that The Independent and Times Online may charge for content.

The publishers have spoken out against implementing such a model, already used by the likes of the Financial Times and Wall St Journal. Instead they prefer to focus on online advertising and paid-for products.

The opposition follows new media age’s revelation this week that rivals Independent News & Media, News International’s Times Online and Bauer are investigating online subscription models in the face of sliding ad revenues (nma 26 March).

Both Guardian News & Media and the Telegraph have already said they will remain subscription-free.

The MailOnline, which attracted 21.8m unique users during February according to this week’s ABCEs, said charging for content would only suit publishers with niche content such as the Financial Times.

James Bromley, MD of MailOnline, said, “It makes sense for it because a lot of its content is not available elsewhere and the vast majority of subscribers will pay with the company credit card.”

Likewise, special-interest publisher Future doesn’t believe a payment model would work for the company.

Danny Ward-Lee, Future’s digital commercial director, said, “We’re still in growth phase as a business compared to other publishers. We’re still launching products and not at the top of our game yet.

“A quarter of our revenues came from digital last year,” Ward-Lee added.

Publishers have said their online display advertising is still proving profitable and have pointed towards other developments across the sites to generate money.

David Black, group director of digital publishing at the Mirror Group Digital, said it would not move towards a paid-for model as the group has “a wide range of revenue streams, like advertising, classified, bingo and transactional. The ad model is tried and tested and our digital revenues are profitable”.

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