Ekstra Bladet launches digital paid subscription model

Denmark’s largest news website, launched EKSTRA, a paid subscription system based on the “freemium” model, on 13 May. Content that was previously accessible on the site for free remains so, whilst EKSTRA will offer extra “quality journalism” in the form of in-depth reports and analyses on complex current affairs issues for 29 DKK (3.90 €) per month, with a 30 day free trial.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | May 28, 2013

“EKSTRA represents extra quality journalism and investigative articles from our team of journalists. This type of content was never previously published on,” explained Lisbeth Langwadt, head of EKSTRA’s editorial team. “Quality journalism is how we make our living in print, but as print sales decline and readers move to digital publications, obviously our quality journalism has to follow suit. In addition, we can take advantage of a vast range of digital tools at EKSTRA, making the stories come alive to our readers on both tablet and mobile devices,” she added.

Three editorial EKSTRA employees will work to refine stories from Ekstra Bladet’s print version on a daily basis, focusing on the quality and thoroughness of reporting to ensure that EKSTRA publishes digital content of a high enough caliber to make users want to pay a monthly subscription. “Every single journalist at Ekstra Bladet takes part in the process and can produce EKSTRA content. Also, we quite often have an excess of quality content that is not published in the paper due to limited space. Now we have the possibility of unfolding these stories digitally as part of EKSTRA,” said Lisbeth Langwadt.

The Danish tabloid has a dedicated editorial development team currently focused on branching into digital narrative productions such as infographics and interactive timelines for both EKSTRA and its free online content. They can be expected to produce multimedia interactive features similar to Guardian Australia’s “online journey” published yesterday – a storytelling experience comprising video, audio, photo and text to recount one family’s experience of hiding from a bush fire in Tasmania. One such feature that is due to go behind the paywall but is free for now is the story of how a Danish shipping crew were rescued from pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Ekstra Bladet’s digital director, Søren Svendsen, explained the reasoning behind choosing a freemium model for “The key focal point – and the core of this project from a commercial perspective – is converting existing users into paying customers. A closer relationship with our users is key to generating more online business in the future.” He said that the paper’s paid content strategy was inspired by the successful paid content implementation of Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in 2011.

By the end of Q2 2013, Ekstra Bladet’s sister papers, Politiken and Jyllands-Posten – also owned by the largest privately-held Danish news corporation, JP/Politikens Hus – will both have introduced paid content models also. Jyllands-Posten launched ‘JP Premium’ in December 2012, a ‘freemium’ paid online content initiative similar to EKSTRA whereby breaking news and short stories are free, whilst the JP Premium “quality journalism” is restricted to paying subscribers. Politiken is due to launch a metered model by the end of May.

Denmark is not alone in its flurry of paid subscription systems – it would appear that we are witnessing a European trend for tabloid paywalls that is catching on all over. This week has seen coverage of another paywall announcement from Germany’s top-selling tabloid Bild, owned by Axel Springer. Similarly to EKSTRA, Bild is also pursuing the freemium strategy, leaving main stories free of charge and giving subscribers the opportunity to access features, interviews and other exclusive content for 4.99 € on a basic subscription, and twice that for a premium version which includes an e-paper. The UK’s Sun – another top-selling tabloid – is also to start charging for its content (£2 a week) in August, having secured a £30 million deal with the Premier League which will give them exclusive rights to show their subscribers football highlight

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