Almost four years after The Times blocked free access to most of its website with a paywall, 70 per cent of the public would “not consider” paying for digital news content, according to YouGov research commissioned by the London Press Club.
And yet, in the same survey, a group of more than 400 “opinion former” news junkies were far more positive about paying. Some 37 per cent of this group had made some kind of financial transaction for digital news in the past year (compared with 9 per cent of the wider public).
The YouGov survey offers pointers to the kind of content that is more likely to survive behind a paywall. An impressive 8 per cent of the public said they would pay for expert opinion, 6 per cent for sport and 6 per cent for local news. Among the niche of “opinion formers”, 34 per cent would pay for investigative journalism. There must be a viable business here.