Reuters, the Canadian financial news giant, has just announced via a leak to the NYT that it will put its website, long one of the last remaining free sources of markets news and information, behind a paywall for the first time.
Reuters will begin charging $34.99 a month for a subscription to its website: NYT
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The shift, described by the company’s CMO as “the biggest digital transformation at Reuters in a decade”, will be accompanied by a rollout of expanded digital coverage of important industries – like autos – aimed at a “professional” audience.
The strategy shift comes just days after Reuters announced that Alessandra Galloni, a global managing editor for Reuters’ news business, had been selected to become the company’s new editor in chief, a job she’s set to start on Monday.
While the decision could decimate Reuters’ hefty traffic – its free website attracts 40M unique viewers a month – could be good news for a digital media industry struggling after wave after wave of layoffs: Reuters digital director, Arlyn Gajilan, said she expected to expand the digital team working on the revamped website.
Under the new regime, a subscription to Reuters.com will cost $34.99 a month, the same as Bloomberg’s digital subscription (though paying users will be allowed a free trial period). That’s compared with the Wall Street Journal’s digital subscription costs of $38.99 a month, while The New York Times costs $18.42 monthly.
Reuters’ Chief Marketing Officer Josh London told the NYT that Reuters’ decision followed “months of audience research” which elucidated what Reuters’ readers want to see.
Months of audience research showed that those readers were divided in two separate groups: those wanting breaking news and professionals looking for context and analysis about how news affected their industry, Josh London, chief marketing officer at Reuters, said in an interview with the NYT that the launch of the paywall and its new digital-reporting offerings mark “
Reuters will roll out new sections on its website for subscribers in coming weeks that include coverage of legal news, sustainable business, energy, health care and the auto industry. It also plans to introduce industry-specific newsletters.
Mr. London described the new website as “the largest digital transformation at Reuters in a decade.” He declined to provide specifics on digital subscription goals but said that it represented “a major opportunity for us.”
According to the Reuters story announcing the new paywall, (published 20 minutes after the NYT leak) Reuters said that non-paying readers can still access 5 stories per month. Reuters also noted that the paywall will be part of a “transformation” to court professionals that will include live events, newsletters, channels on streaming TV services Roku and Plex and even audio via Amazon.com. As millions of Reuters readers sign up for their free trials, the entire industry will be keeping a close eye to see how many quit once those hefty $35 monthly payments start hitting, while a drop in digital ad revenue squeezes the company’s bottom line, forcing it to depend more than ever on Refinitiv, the Reuters terminal business that was spun off a few years back in a deal with Blackstone.