Paywall Model Make-or-Break for Variety
Audience loyalty critical as online competitors gain ground
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2009 2:50 PM CST
The Daily Variety trade magazine is seen for sale at a news stand in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Thursday, Sep. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(Newser) Variety will phase in a paywall starting today, a return to its pre-2006 model and a big gamble that its long history as the Hollywood daily will spur users to open their wallets. The site's traffic has increased since it became free, but it failed to attract a bump in advertising revenue, writes Jon Friedman. "We're not as concerned about traffic as other publications," said president Neil Stiles. "As long as we deliver to core people in the business, that's what our advertisers expect."

But online competitors, such as TheWrap.com, have been beating Variety to stories, notes Friedman, writing for MarketWatch. With aggressive newcomers offering scoops at no charge, the old-timer must prove its worth. "Variety needs to upgrade its reputation," Friedman warns. "It must demonstrate, too, that it continues to be relevant—at any price."