Variety sees page views plunge more than 40% to 1.9 million since erecting its online pay wall in December

THETFORD CENTER, Vermont , April 28, 2010 () – Variety has seen pageviews plunge more than 40% since erecting its online pay wall.

Last December, when the trade publication put its pay wall into place, saw 3.2 million pageviews, while last month, the site generated just 1.9 million, per Nielsen (via MediaPost).

Unique visitors fell 18%, from 745,000 to 609,000 during the same time period. The site allows users to view up to five articles at no charge before they are required to register and pay.

But the drop in pageviews does not necessarily mean that ad revenue has gone down, the article points out, because advertisers may be willing to pay more in order to reach an engaged audience that ponies up $250 yearly to access the site’s content. That $250 subscription fee includes print delivery and unlimited online access.

Newsday, which also recently erected a pay wall, saw page views and unique visitors fall significantly, as well. Newsday charges $5 a week for access to its website.

Publishers Experiment and Watch

Magazines and newspapers are experimenting with varying charges for access to their content via print, web and mobile delivery. Some, like Variety, charge for most content, while others, like Hearst, are trying out paid apps for the iPhone, iPad and other mobile devices.

The New York Times is experimenting with unbundling its various sections and offering them as paid apps, while News Corp has said all its newspapers will have all online content behind pay walls in the next year or so, beginning with The Times.

Publishers of both magazines and newspapers are closely watching how other publishers succeed or fail in their attempts to make readers open their wallets for content that used to be free, in the hopes of finding the Holy Grail of making content return a more healthy ROI.

The Washington Post, for one, is taking a “watch and see” approach for now, according to vice chairman of the Washington Post Co., Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr. Jones pointed out (via Seeking Alpha) that some newspapers that had erected pay walls around specific, “high value” content - like the Los Angeles Times with entertainment news and the Dallas Morning News for its coverage of the Cowboys - had eventually removed them.

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