Following the trial launch of The New York Times paywall in Canada March 17, a new survey conducted by University of British Columbia researchers has found the majority of Canadians are unwilling to pay for online news, especially if there are free alternatives.
The study, which surveyed nearly 1,700 Canadian adults, indicated that 81 percent refuse to pay for online news and nine of out 10 would switch to free alternatives if their favourite news sites began charging for content.
“These results should give pause to any news corporations in Canada or abroad that are considering erecting paywalls around their content,” said Donna Logan, a professor emerita of UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism and lead author of the study, “Canadian Consumers Unwilling to Pay for News Online.”
If no free alternatives were available, only 30 percent would be willing to pay for news online, according to the study.
The survey also found that among those who are willing to pay, there is a clear preference for a flat-fee subscription (34 percent), followed by metered, pay-as-you-go models (20 percent). Options with little support included a daily charge (6 percent), an article fee (4 percent), or by purchasing mobile device applications, The Guardian reported.
“The New York Times is revered by many readers for its quality,” said Logan, president of the Canadian Media Research Consortium (CMRC), “so if its paywall system defies the odds and succeeds, these findings suggest it would be an exception, rather than a model to follow.”