SCMP previously had a digital subscription model for about 10 years, until the company was bought by Alibaba in 2016, and it was decided to make the website freely available.
“The hypothesis was that the world would need to understand China and Asia to understand what was happening in the world,” Lee said, noting that the mission of the 118-year-old South China Morning Post is to lead the global conversation about China.
“In order to open up our journalism, and our editorial product, to the rest of the world, it meant taking down the paywall. So five years ago, we took the paywall down. Eighteen months ago, we reached a point where our reach and distribution very clearly pointed towards the fact that we were no longer just Hong Kong’s English language news source of record, but that we were truly a global news organisation.”
He noted that while SCMP does not reveal their subscription numbers, “what I can say is that in the 18 months that we have had our current subscription service live, we have surpassed the number of subscribers that we had in our almost decade old subscription service.”
Getting people to understand the value of content
Lee said SCMP started their relaunched digital subscriptions with a metered wall to get their readers used to the fact that SCMP was going to be limiting the amount of content they were going to be able to access.
“What we were hoping to find is what is that sweet spot where we can give people just enough that they are effectiv…
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