As the former director of strategy for Fairfax Media, Gautam Mishra (CEO and founder of inkl) believes that while paywalls are “a step in the right direction” for the industry, more must be done to grow consumer revenues and help solve the monetisation challenge for news publishers.
Mishra, who left Fairfax last year to establish inkl, was responsible for setting up and running the paywall on Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald and Age titles in 2013. “With 2% penetration in just over a year, the SMH and Age paywall is widely seen as one of the most successful ones in the industry, globally,” Mishra said. “However, even with that success, the overarching question remains – what can one do with the other 98%.”
His answer: Create a common payment platform that unlocks content from multiple sources, just as Spotify does for music, and Netflix does for television and film.
“Our customer research was very clear: Readers today are a lot more willing to pay for news, but most are still holding back on subscribing because they don’t want to make a financial commitment to any single news source,” Mishra said. “For many users there’s also an additional concern around value-for-money. These readers are willing to pay for what they read, but don’t necessarily read enough to justify regular monthly subscriptions.”
inkl aims to address these needs through its offering and pricing model. Readers can choose between inkl’s $15 per month “unlimited access” option, or a “pay-as-you-read” account that costs just 10 cents per article.
The platform already has agreements in place with many of the world’s premier publishers, including The Guardian (Australia, UK and US editions), The Sydney Morning Herald, the South China Morning Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post and Indian business publication Livemint. More titles are expected to be added in coming weeks.
Mishra founded inkl with creative and strategic input from Marcus Brauchli, co-founder of North Base Media and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and executive editor of The Washington Post. North Base Media is an early investor in inkl and has also recently helped finance Piano Media’s acquisition of Press+, to create the world’s largest paywall service provider.