Many news organizations are scrambling to find an alternative to ad-based revenue. Various new subscription models are being tried, including subcompact publishers like The Magazine, micro-subscription services like DNP (which lets you subscribe to a single writer), and today eLinea, a service offered by the Dutch startup eReaders.NL, announced plans for a new buffet-style news subscription service.
When eLinea launched 2 years ago (in February 2011), they initially used a micro-subscription model similar to that of DNP. eLinea allowed readers to subscribe to either individual digital magazines and newspapers or subscribe to a particular category, or even subscribe to a single writer and only receive a small amount of content for an even smaller price.
But as innovative as that was, eLinea has also been looking at going in a completely different direction. For the past 2 months eLinea has been studying whether readers would be willing to pay a single subscription fee and access all of the content on the platform. This is an impressive selection of content from more than 70 Dutch news sources, publishers, and even individual authors and poets.
And as part of the study, eLinea ran a pilot program from late February to late March. More than 150 subjects participated in the pilot, and it included content from Dutch magazines like Psyche en Brein, DNP, Mo* Magazine, Computer Idee, Foodies, Goedele Magazine, and Auto Review, along with columns and cartoons from Joep Bertrams and Tom Janssen, poems by Ingmar Heytze and Benno Barnard, and short stories from author Urban Waite.
A significant number of the test subjects (approximately 75%) indicated that they were willing to pay for items on eLinea, with most people preferring a pre-paid credit or an all-you-can-read subscription. Of the respondents who liked an all-you-can-read subscription, 28% said they would pay up to 5 euros per month, 43% were willing to pay up to 10 euros per month, and 29% indicated that they would pay more than 15 to 30 euros per month for the service. Interestingly enough, about 95% also added (assuming this came through Google Translate correctly) that they would add this new subscription alongside their existing paid subscriptions instead of using it to replace them. Of course, a part of that group have no paid subscriptions so this would be their first. But this is still a willingness to pay that I was not expecting.
Now, this all-you-can-read subscription model isn't exactly new. There's at least one company using it in a large way: Newspaper Direct. That company has been working with newspapers and magazines all over the world, but so far as I know they don't work with individual writers like eLinea is planning.
eLinea expects to launch the new service in September 2013.