Oklahoma State Student Paper to Begin Charging Non-Local Web Readers

Starting soon, certain visitors to the online home of The Daily O’Collegian must pay to enter.  The student newspaper at Oklahoma State University recently entered into an arrangement with Press+, an “e-commerce platform . . . that enables digital news publishers to collect revenue from readers.”

Only a fraction of the O’Collegian online readership base must scale the pay wall– individuals not currently attending or working at the school who live outside the university’s “immediate geographic area” and who wish to view content more than three times per month.  Beginning early this year, these non-local loyalists will be required to pay a “small fee” to continue browsing ocolly.com

O’Collegian general manager Ray Catalino: “We’ve always known that the content our students produce has value well beyond the free drop distribution of our newspaper.  Charging a modest fee to access our online content for non-students who live outside Stillwater helps us foster that belief.”

The OK State pub is the first college news outlet to attempt a pay scheme of any sort.  The experiment will hopefully provide answers to the lingering questions held by other student journalists curious to try content charging: Will readers actually pay the fee? Will the revenue from the fee be worth the cost in potential readership alienation?  Is this readership category the right one to target for such a pricing plan?

My take: At present, I can still see no reason why college media outlets should erect pay walls or enact pricing meters for their online content. Some independent student newspapers with higher bottom lines have endured financial hiccups lately but, overall, college media are holding strong. A majority of outlets are fully or mostly supported. Staff work for free or are paid a pittance. Annual profit expectations are zero to uber-low.

With no pressing need to enhance their revenue streams, my advice: Keep sites free. By offering readers an open window instead of a wall, college media can become more of a trusted, viable alternative to the pro-press pay plans.

To read more of my thoughts on the pay-per-view dilemma in the college press, click here or on the image below.

Comments
9 Responses to “Oklahoma State Student Paper to Begin Charging Non-Local Web Readers”
  1. Student says:

    Will readers actually pay the fee? Some might if it’s small enough and the content is good. We’re not talking about significant revenue.

    Will the revenue from the fee be worth the cost in potential readership alienation? That depends on how large a group we’re talking about. If it’s 5 percent of total visits occurring from visitors on their 4th+ visit who don’t live in the area, than it might be worth the risk.

    Is this readership category the right one to target for such a pricing plan? Maybe. It’s unlikely that targets students. It targets people who are genuinely interested in the content.

  2. Jay Spear says:

    Metered till the 4th view. I’d expect it will be graduates that will be visiting. The article doesn’t mention a price.

    I would categorize a college paper and what they produce as niche or non commodity content. The people coming to view pages here have many other choices. They aren’t coming for general news.

    I bet their take rate will be pretty good considering these points.
    For them it will be all about price. Don’t get greedy.

  3. Oh no, now how will I know what’s going on at OSU?!

    I’d be surprised if there is one paying customer. Their major sports will be covered by other local papers/news outlets, and anything else would no doubt only be of importance to the students themselves. If I was a grad there and really really wanted to know what was going on, I’d just find a student willing to pick me up a free one (I’m assuming like every college and university campus the papers just litter the place) and send them to me.

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  4. […] to begin charging select readers a minimal fee to access its online content.  As I mentioned in a related post, the paper is the first known college news outlet to attempt an online pay scheme of any […]

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  6. […] a bit more than a year after enacting it. At the start of spring semester 2011, the paper became the first U.S. student media outlet to charge a subset of readers for its content online, requiring a $10 yearly subscription fee for […]



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