Hearst evaluating pay models in other cities

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Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012 11:39 am | Updated: 11:25 am, Mon Dec 3, 2012.

The launch last week of The Houston Chronicle’s premium website marks the first Hearst Corp. newspaper to place content behind a paywall and could herald similar digital initiatives at other Hearst sites.

Lincoln Millstein, Hearst’s senior vice president for digital media, told News & Tech that The Chronicle’s digital strategy is one of a number of options under evaluation by the publisher, but that, “We are contemplating different models for different markets.”

The Chronicle rolled out the new site, houstonchronicle.com, as a companion site to the daily’s existing chron.com website, which will remain free.

The dual-site strategy is similar to what The Boston Globe did with its bostonglobe.com and boston.com websites.

“Our primary goal is to deliver to all of our subscribers the valuable information they want, when they want it, via the device that is most convenient to them, and at a fair price,” Chronicle Media Group President John T. O'Loughlin said in a statement.

“As a premium website, houstonchronicle.com is a natural extension of our digital offerings and will be an integral component of all our subscription packages going forward.”

In concert with the premium site, The Chronicle unveiled Star Access, a membership program that includes access to houstonchronicle.com, the iPad edition and the daily eEdition. Memberships begin at $9.95 per month; print or mobile subscribers whose monthly bills exceed that price get Star Access for no additional charge, The Chronicle said.

More than 350 North American newspapers have now launched some type of paywall across their sites. Click here to see News & Tech’s comprehensive list.

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