Mail Online Readers Say They Will Pay, But They Won’t Be Forced To

“We’ve done qualitative research in the UK that did tend to indicate users of Mail Online would pay something for certain aspects of the content,” DMGT CEO Martin Morgan told City analysts.

“Which is encouraging but doesn’t mean we’re going to change our philosophy.”

“We’re not contemplating that in the U.S., of all places, because we’re trying to build scale there. We now have 26 million-odd (monthly users) and growing fast.

“We’re focused in the UK on building strong brand advertising revenue in key locations.”

Mail Online’s iPhone app has an average 120,000 daily users who read it an average of 25 minutes per day, DMGT finance chief Stephen Daintith said.

“That’s one of our fastest-growing sources of audience and revenue. We’re putting it on to Android shortly as well.”

Mail Online revenue grew 65 percent in the year to October 2011 for what was a total £19 million digital revenue across Associated Newspapers. But Associated made a £900,000 loss from digital after investing in Mail Online’s U.S. expansion, and CEO Morgan reckons the site won’t be profitable until about 2013.

The iPhone app is free to new downloaders for 60 days and then requires a subscription (£8.99 for 12 months, £4.99 for six months). Mail Online’s iPad app is free for 90 days and requires a subscription (various tiers up to £19.99 for a year).

DMGT committed to keeping Mail Online mostly free in an April 2010 presentation to investors, in which it said…
  • “Readers will not pay to consume general news on the web.”
  • “All news has traditionally been free – EXCEPT print.”
  • “People pay for the convenience of print in recognition of the special cost of production and delivery of a tangible product and because they purchase it WHOLE.”
  • “Which is why they will also pay for news on mobile devices.”
  • “And we will also experiment with niche paid-for web content.”
  • “Like it or not, the web is free with one or two players in each sector becoming big winners.”
  • “MailOnline – uniquely among UK newspaper sites – is now big enough to make the advertising model pay.”
  • “Staying free also allows us to expand our news brand internationally.”
  • “And protect and promote our group’s paid-for products and services.”
  • “A pay-wall MIGHT make a little money – we will make a lot.”