News24’s digital subscription service went live today, offering users additional investigative reporting, opinions, analysis, podcasts and other content.
Subscribers also get access to magazines and newspapers, including City Press, YOU, Drum and TrueLove.
A digital subscription also allows you to post comments, listen to articles, share subscriber-only articles with friends and subscribe to premium newsletters.
News24 opted for a blended model, where current affairs, crime, sport, business, and entertainment news is free, with premium content sitting behind the paywall.
News24 editor-in-chief, Adriaan Basson, explained that the move is in line with international trends. Overseas more publications are starting to charge for online news content as the industry faces financial pressure.
“We need to ensure that we build a sustainable future for digital publications like News24 to keep power to account and strengthen democracy,” said Basson.
The cost of subscribing is R75 per month, and to see what you get for this money MyBroadband subscribed to the service.
Users have three options to subscribe – using an email address, Google account, or Facebook account.
MyBroadband used an email address, and the process was easy. You give your email address, provide payment preference and details, and you are done.
News24 made it seamless to subscribe, which is an important step to ensure you do not lose potential subscribers who click the “subscribe” button.
What you get behind the paywall
After you subscribe the main change is that you get full access to the “For Subscribers” content.
Today’s main story is “Inside David Mabuza’s diary: ANC activities, blocked out days take up big chunks of DP’s time”.
It is an in-depth analysis of Deputy President David Mabuza’s activities – the type of content you would expect from a subscription service.
Subscribers also have the option to listen to articles through a “Listen to this article” box on the top of articles.
This feature is available on many South African publications for free, and it is unclear how popular this service is.
Another subscription-only feature is the ability to comment. This is a regular subscription-only feature which many readers enjoy.
Subscribers also have the ability to share up to five subscriber-exclusive articles with friends every month.
MyBroadband tested this feature, and it worked like a charm. An email is sent to the person with a unique link which allows the article to be viewed without a subscription.
Exclusive newsletters include Editor’s Notebook, Business Briefing, Bright Spark, and a personalised Good Morning, SA.
Subscribers can also read the latest e-editions of YOU, Drum, TrueLove magazines and the City Press newspaper.
The News24 digital subscription is well worth the money. For R75 per month you get additional quality content and added functionality which many users will enjoy.
The challenge, for News24 and other local online publications, with a subscription service is that South Africans are not accustomed to paying for online news.
For over 2 decades quality online news has been provided for free, and the verdict is still out as to whether there is enough demand for additional content behind a paywall.
News24’s easy-to-use and high-quality subscription service is the biggest test yet to determine what the demand is for digital news subscriptions in South Africa.
If successful, it may change the online publishing industry in South Africa forever.
The screenshots below provide an overview of what News24 digital subscribers can expect to see.