On November 18, 2013, the Santa Cruz Sentinel announced that it’s parent company, Digital First Media, would be moving to a subscriber-based model for accessing digital content.
I’m not certain when the online subscription model first launched on the Sentinel’s website, however a paywall is in effect as of Monday, February 3, 2014.
When visiting the Sentinel’s website via a link, I was immediately presented with a popup paywall stating, “You have five (5) free articles remaining for the current 30-day period. For full digital access, sign up today for just 99¢!”
Paying for access to the Santa Cruz Sentinel will also grant the subscriber viewing privileges to all Bay Area News Group (BANG) digital publications. This includes San Jose Mercury News — the flagship paper of the group, Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, The Argus (Fremont), The Daily Review (Hayward), Marin Independent Journal, The Reporter (Vacaville), and Times-Herald (Vallejo), as well as all of BANG’s local weekly community publications.
As an incentive to pay for access, a 4-Week Digital Access Trial is available for $0.99. After four weeks, the subscription will renew automatically at the full rate of $2.30/week. Doing the math, that works out to a rate of $9.20/month and $110.40/year.
This move by Digital First Media to charge for online content reflects a transition from revenue based on advertising towards reader-generated funding. It remains to be seen, however, if a critical mass of readers will opt-in and if the model will prove viable for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and related publications.
You’ve Reached Your Limit of Free Articles
This is what the Santa Cruz Sentinel paywall looks like after reaching the limit.
“You’ve reached your limit of free articles for this 30-day period. For full digital access, sign up today for just 99¢!”