RR Donnelley's Press+ Blows Through "300" Milestone



For Immediate Release                                                      



New York, April 2, 2012 — RR Donnelley’s Press+, the flexible e-commerce platform that enables publishers to generate new digital revenues from online readers, today announced that 323 publications are now using its services to launch paid models. One year ago, 24 publishers had launched with Press+, but now it is becoming the rule and no longer the exception for publishers to charge for access online. Since launching its first affiliate news site in the summer of 2010, Press+ has enabled newspapers, magazines and online sites to generate new digital revenues by asking their most engaged readers to pay for unlimited access.

Of the affiliates using the platform to date, none has reported any loss in online advertising revenue as a result of asking readers to pay for full access. Instead, by applying a “metered” model that allows casual readers to keep visiting the site for free but asks the most engaged readers to pay, publishers using Press+ have seen these promising results:

  • Advertising revenue has held steady or, in some cases, increased.
  • Readership has remained stable; even those readers who opt not to pay under the metered model return to sample more content the following month.
  • Publishers charging for digital access have immediately strengthened their print franchises, as they are no longer offering a free online alternative to a print subscription.
  • Consumers are especially attracted by “all-digital access” subscriptions, which include access to the website plus iPad, mobile and other digital versions.
  • Print publications are increasing their existing subscription revenues by 10-20% by offering their print subscribers all-digital access as a “bundle” with their print subscriptions in return for a modest increase in the print subscription price. In doing so, they have also transitioned their print subscribers into digital subscribers – a key strategic move for the long-term.

By asking their most engaged readers to pay for digital content, print publishers have built a high-margin, recurring revenue stream from digital subscriptions that will carry their businesses into the digital age.

“Two years ago, publishers were asking if they should charge for content,” said Press+ co-founder Steven Brill. “Last year they began asking ‘How should I charge?’ We think we’ve been succeeding with our meter in supplying that answer, so now they’re increasingly asking, ‘Why did I wait so long?’”

“What we now know,” added co-founder Gordon Crovitz, “is that publishers can create online reader revenue, while not losing any online advertising revenue.  At the same time, they are strengthening their print franchises by offering print-online bundles and by eliminating the completely free alternative to print. This is the year when it will become the rule and no longer the exception that news brands charge for access online,” Crovitz added.

GateHouse Chief Executive Michael Reed, who is the current chairman of the Newspaper Association of America and who has launched more than 50 GateHouse newspapers on Press+, said, “We believe that there is value in our local news reports, and subscribers have been paying for it for 100 years. Now those who are the most avid readers on the web are being asked to do the same, and so far we are encouraged by the results – no loss in online ad revenue and a new stream of online reader revenue. For us, the puzzle has been how to reverse the practice of giving everything away for free online. Press+ has enabled us to begin to do that.”

Mary Junck, chairman and chief executive of Lee Enterprises, said, “We’re excited about the opportunities we see for digital subscriptions” based on the success of the company’s launch with Press+ of six newspapers in Montana and Wyoming, adding “No other source can match the wealth of unique and indispensable local news and information that we provide around the clock, day in and day out.” Ms. Junck, who is also chairman of the Associated Press, said that Lee Enterprises expects to roll out paid digital access models at most of its newspapers by the end of the year. “We see the development of the paid model as an important part of our company’s future.”

Websites using Press+ include a wide range of publications, including national, metropolitan, and local daily and weekly newspapers; magazines; national, local and global online-only news sources; non-profit news sources; and college student newspapers. Several of the largest U.S. and Canadian newspaper publishing companies, including MediaNews Group, Tribune Company, GateHouse Media, McClatchy, Lee Enterprises, and Postmedia have launched publications on Press+. Publishers using Press+ have generally opted to set their meter between 5 and 15 articles. Price points generally range from $5 to $10 per month, with most offering print subscribers bundled or discounted digital access. The result has been a significant new stream of revenue at a time when traditional business models are under threat and many publishers are in or have gone through bankruptcy.

About RR Donnelley’s Press+:  Conceived in 2009by media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, Press+ has hundreds of newspaper, magazine and online-only affiliates around the world who have launched their paid content initiatives on its revenue platform.  The company was sold to RR Donnelley in 2011, with Brill and Crovitz continuing as co-CEOs.

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Press+ Contact: Cindy Rosenthal; 212-332-6406; [email protected]