Sun Media’s urban dailies have gone behind their respective paywalls.
Sun+, the Sun chain’s subscription program, launched today. Like other Canadian newspaper paywalls launched over the last few months, it takes a metered approach, allowing readers 20 free articles per month. According to torontosun.com, non-subscribers will also get “news highlights, hot topics, breaking news stories, an extensive lineup of bloggers, the daily Sunshine Girl photo, [and] ‘Coffee Break’ diversions” for free.
So what are subscribers paying for? According to the Sun+ subscription page, behind the paywall will be in-depth local coverage, columnists, investigative reports, live sports commentary and in-depth sports analysis. This makes sense, as the Toronto Sun recently made an investment in its sports section; expanding its pages and increasing its staff. Also included in the subscription plan is expanded Sunshine Girl offerings.
Like The Globe and Mail, which launched Globe Unlimited earlier this fall, existing print subscribers will be able to get a Sun+ subscription at no extra cost. For non-print subscribers, an introductory rate of $0.99 is being offered for the first month, after which readers can choose from a variety of packages. A basic Sun+ account that will let readers access Sun articles from computer, tablet or mobile will cost $5.99 per month. Last week in The Globe and Mail, Steve Ladurantaye reported that Sun Media will create bundle packages that will allow readers behind the paywall of out-of-market Sun papers as well, though that option doesn’t seem to be available as of yet.
Sun Media began experimenting with paywalls on the websites of Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Quebec earlier this year. Based on "very encouraging" early results of those paywalls, said Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor Media Inc., the parent company of Sun Media, the company decided to move forward with paywalls across all of its major publications.
The Sun newspaers are but the latest Canadian titles to move behind a paywall. As mentioned, The Globe launched Globe Unlimited earlier this fall and Postmedia now has paywalls on the websites of The Montreal Gazette, The Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province. Victoria's Times-Colonist also went behind a paywall when it was owned by Postmedia, though the company has since sold the paper to Glacier Media. Postmedia has announced plans to put its flagship title, the National Post, behind a paywall in 2013. Torstar has been experimenting with paywals as well -- as seen in the example of The Hamilton Spectator -- and has announced plans to put the Toronto Star behind a paywall in 2013 as well. Brunswick News put all of its titles behind a hard paywall (read: not metered) in November 2011 and Northern News Services has its titles behind a similar type of paywall too.
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