The Guardian is developing a two-tier digital model aimed at driving thousands of its most avid readers who currently do not pay for its journalism towards an enhanced and increasingly distinct service for which they will pay a monthly fee.
The strategy will enable the publisher to continue its tradition of open publishing, and will rely on offering a superior user experience, rather than putting any content behind a paywall.
The plan is focused on The Guardian’s premium app, which costs £5.99 per month ($6.99 in the US). The platform introduced two new features last week, ‘Live’ and ‘Discover’, offering new ways to consume the title’s news stories and its longer reads. Neither service – regarded internally as The Guardian’s equivalent to Twitter and Instagram – is currently available to users of the free Guardian app.
The Guardian will re-position the premium app in September with the introduction of a range of new features. This will be backed by a marketing campaign aimed at transitioning more of the Guardian’s global audience of 150 million monthly browsers to paying users.
The strategy dovetails with the Guardian’s donations policy, introduced in dire financial straits in 2016, whereby it requests financial help from readers in support of its open publishing model; a ploy which has seen 800,000 donors, subscribers and members hand over cash.
Caspar Llewellyn Smith, editor of The Guardian’s digital platforms, told The Drum that, “The pleasing news for Guardian journalists is that the journalism we feel proudest of and feel that we are here to produce is the stuff that motivates people to pay,” he says.