Would you pay for fresh content?
It was labelled an online experiment and one that critics were sure was doomed to an early death.
But since its launch in October last year The Australian has slowly grown in popularity, to the point where 40,000 subscribers now pay to view content on its digital platform.
News Limited is said to be more than pleased with the results and possibly even a little taken aback.
John Allan, chief operating officer of The Australian, said that the figures were a welcome relief.
"Clearly we are still in very early days, and we are learning every day, but this is an extremely encouraging start. The number of consumers who have trialled our product, and subsequently taken up the subscription offer, has comfortably exceeded both our internal sweepstakes and our budgets," he explained.
It is also good news for a company that has been failing to increase its readership for some time as sales of its newspaper – along with many others in Australia – have continued to fall over the past two decades.
"With print circulation remaining steady, we are growing overall paid sales of The Australian and we are earning more digital revenue under the new subscription model than we were under the advertising-only model," asserted Mr Allan.
The way Australians perceive and value online content has always been an issue for local business, with a number of companies struggling to monetise the medium.
A long held perception that Australia was often behind the eight ball when it came to digital content seems to be diminishing, with The Australian's early success indicating that consumers are willing to put a price on content.
The Australian's main competitor, The Australian Financial Review, is reported to have 10,897 online subscribers after introducing a paywall a few years ago.
Industry experts believe that these figures will encourage other news publications to initiate paywalls for their online content.
Posted by Aimee McBride