Variety Readies Online Pay Wall

Rollout starts Thursday; subscribers to retain full access

Last Updated: December 10, 2009 @ 6:47 AM

On Tuesday, Variety announced a new editor for its Daily Variety print edition. On Wednesday, Variety announced its online content will be going behind a pay wall.

Beginning Thursday, "one in 10 randomly-selected visitors" to Variety.com will be prompted to register for access after they’ve clicked on two pages.

Print and digital subscribers that register will have full access to Variety.com. Nonsubscribers "may access only five pages of content in any given month."

Currently, the cost of an annual subscription to Variety — which includes access to print editions of Daily Variety and weekly Variety, Variety.com and Digital Variety — is $248.

"This initial phase allows us to gather more information about our paying customers worldwide and hone the user experience so we can continue to provide the best subscriber experience for all paying customers," Variety president Neil Stiles said in a statement. "The number of unique visitors to Variety will decline, but the people who remain on the site are our core audience. These are ultimately the people we want to reach."

Just how far will traffic decline?

“Traffic will fall steeply," Variety publisher Brian Gott told Folio:. “We understand that implementing a pay wall is not a circulation driver. We’re an endemic advertising vehicle and not a CPM business. In respect to the general consumer audience online, we and our advertisers care less about losing them as we do about keeping our b-to-b audience.”

Variety follows a growing number of publishers experimenting with putting online content behind pay walls — most notably News Corp., which has said it will roll out paid content policies, similar to the one at WSJ.com, across all of its news sites.

The New York Times has been mulling a pay wall for its Web site, too, but has yet to make a decision on its approach.

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