Variety Taking Hollywood News Behind Paywall

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Entertainment industry trade magazine Variety has announced it will be putting its content behind a “paywall” starting today, making its premiere online content accessible only to paid subscribers. The publication plans to start the paywall conversion slowly, by initially requiring about 10 percent of visitor for a valid username and password to access content. In about two months, nearly all access will be restricted to paying subscribers—unregistered visitors will be limited to five page views per month.

The move marks the latest high-profile publication to take its online content behind a paywall and restrict access to paying subscribers. The most successful instance is probably Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal; Murdoch has recently threatened to take some or all of New Corp’s publications behind paywalls and grant access only to paid subscribers in an effort to prevent Internet users from accessing the content via Google and other online services. Variety is not a News Corp publication; the Variety Group is owned by Reed Elsevier Group PLC, based in London and Amsterdam.

Variety has been publishing for more than 100 years, and boasts about 2.5 million online visitors a month. However, online visitors who want to continue reading Variety may be in for a shock: the initial “promotional” rate for an online subscription will be $248 a year, although that grants access to daily and weekly offerings, as well as Web access and an iPhone application. The pricing structure is similar to the print edition.

Variety’s strong focus on the entertainment industry may mean that, like the highly specialized Wall Street Journal, it may be able to successfully transition its readership behind a paywall. More general interest publications may have more difficulty.

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