MailOnline to launch paid subscriptions for premium content

A photo illustration showing a copy of the Daily Mail newspaper in a letterbox on July 12, 2021 in London, England.
A photo illustration showing a copy of the Daily Mail newspaper in a letterbox on July 12, 2021 in London, England.

MailOnline will start charging for some of its content amid a push to diversify revenues.

While most articles will remain free to read, a selected 10 to 15 each day will be available only to those who pay. The overhaul is expected in January.

The model is said to be based on ­German tabloid Bild, which introduced a partial paywall on its website a decade ago. DMGT executives have travelled to Germany to discuss the plans.

DMGT owner Lord Rothermere has been exploring a new business model for MailOnline to ensure that the
company isn’t as dependent on the advertising market. Changes to Facebook and Google algorithms have hit revenues across the media market.

Lord Rothermere, who was planning to bid for The Telegraph before an ­auction was derailed by RedBird IMI’s complex debt deal, hinted at the moves in an interview last month.

He said: “I think we can carry on being mostly advertising, but we can also build a premium subscription product as well.”

It reflects similar moves by GB News, which last month rolled out a a tiered subscription package offering access to a small number of exclusive articles. Sources said there were no plans to impose a paywall on MailOnline readers in the United States.

The changes mark Daily Mail and General Trust’s (DMGT) second attempt to build a digital subscription business allied to its flagship newspaper, the Daily Mail.

In 2019 it introduced Mail+, offering exclusive videos and podcasts for paying subscribers. However, it has now been rebranded Mail+ Editions and merely offers a ­digital version of the newspaper.

MailOnline originally expanded in parallel to the Daily Mail with hundreds of its own staff and a greater focus on celebrity gossip. The titles have since become more integrated, prompting dozens of job cuts to avoid duplicated effort and cut costs.

Journalists fear the latest changes will be accompanied by further job losses. Any additional cuts would compound woes in the sector after Mirror and Express owner Reach announced a further 450 job cuts last month, taking the total to almost 800 this year.

The company has been hit by a downturn in the ad market and its over-reliance on social media to drive traffic. Unlike many of its rivals, though, analysts say Reach would struggle to convince readers to pay for its mass-market content.

A spokesman for MailOnline declined to comment.

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