News International, the British publishing arm of News Corporation, has announced plans to install a paywall around the online version of its one-time trade union newspaper The Sun.
And like plans announced in Australia last week, the new website will be branded with a plus symbol and will include bundled content from other News properties.
Sun+, which will launch on 1 August, will cost subscribers £2 (about $3) per week and will be bundled with content from its daily tabloid newspaper, access to English Premier League clips and other exclusive offers and promotions. Sun+ will be available across web, phone and tablet devices.
News International’s broadsheet newspaper The Times was the first newspaper in Britain to introduce a paywall around its online news content in July 2010. News Limited’s The Australian website placed “premium” content behind a paywall in October 2011.
Last week Stephen King, a Professor of Economics and former Dean at Monash University in Melbourne, wrote on theconversation.com that what the news+ strategy was really about was turning newspapers into “a local brand name used to sell a national product. And that new product is likely to have lots of video, sourced predominantly from Fox Sports."
He added that "News Limited is just continuing on the path it set itself on at least a year ago. That path will replace online editions of its newspapers with on-demand video based around sports content. It will have some video news, some “text articles” and some local content. But it will be a subscriber-based, online video channel.”
King said that this strategy ran the risk of cannibalising News’ pay TV businesses Foxtel and Fox Sports.
He also observed that no other news publisher had yet to come up with a “winning” formula for what the Internet was doing to their businesses.