In the summer of 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Felix Gillette wrote about a bold new digital experiment in Slovakia. For just over four dollars a month, consumers were being encouraged to subscribe to a national Internet paywall grouping together the publications of nine different media organizations.
The company behind that technology was Piano Media and today, Gillette notes that they’ve come a long way. The $149.99-$39.99 price-points relaunch of Newsweek marks the Slovakian company’s first foray into the U.S. market and in fact their first digital client of any kind outside Europe:
The timing of Piano Media’s stateside arrival makes a certain kind of sense. As we noted last year, 2014 is shaping up to be the Year of the Paywall for a range of U.S. news publishers hoping to replace rapidly declining ad dollars with a bump in digital subscription revenue. It was only a matter of time before Piano Media’s experimental approach to paywalls, tested in the relatively calm waters of the Slovakian news media, would entice a U.S. publisher looking for a novel way to survive the roiling hell-broth that is the modern magazine market.
For U.S. media organizations considering the paywall route, we highly recommend bookmarking the Piano Media blog. The information shared there in various posts by Business Informatics Master’s degree and Quantitative Methods Ph.D. holder Roman Gavuliak is worth its weight in gold. Here for example is a brief excerpt from the first installment of his recent three-part series “Lessons in Paid Content:”