Want a recap of the most recent episode of ‘Game of Thrones,” the latest Kardashian gossip, or the scoop on a possible ‘Buffy’ reunion? Entertainment Weekly is the place to go – for a price.According to Politico’s Dylan Byers, Entertainment Weekly’s website, EW.com, is launching a metered paywall. The paywall was “soft launched” last week, with a more formal announcement expected after the Memorial Day weekend.With a metered paywall, nonregistered readers of EW.com will be able to read up to 10 stories per month, while registered nonsubscribers can read up to 15 articles per month. Paying subscribers, however, will get complete digital access to EW.com for $1.99 a month or $20 a year. As an alternative, subscribers can pay $25 a year to get a print subscription as well as full digital access to EW.com. Currently, the print magazine has 1.8 million subscribers who already have unlimited access to the site. Print subscribers won’t be affected by the change.This is the first Time Inc. brand to use a paywall, said Byers. Jill Davison, a spokesperson for Time, Inc., confirmed that similar changes can be expected at other Time Inc. brands in the future. With more than 90 Time Inc. brands, this could lead to a significant revenue stream for the company and its brands, including Sunset, Real Simple, InStyle, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated magazines.Insider Take:From a consumer standpoint, readers will have to decide how much online news and entertainment they are willing to pay for and from which media companies and vendors. From a company standpoint, monetizing popular content makes sense. Producing content, regardless of the platform, is expensive and companies are learning that they cannot necessarily remain sustainable by offering free content and expecting advertising and print subscription revenue to cover costs and still yield a profit.
What Time Inc. is doing is not new, nor is it surprising, though some social media posts make it sound like the sky is falling. Time Inc. is doing what any smart subscription company would do – leveraging a successful brand with a proven track record and attempting to monetize it. Time Inc. is further diversifying its revenue streams by adding another potential subscription opportunity.By going with a metered paywall for EW.com, Time Inc. isn’t impacting the casual reader who occasionally visits the site for entertainment and celebrity news. In fact, it is pretty generous with its limits, offering 10 articles to nonregistered users and 15 to registered but nonpaying readers.Die-hard fans will have a choice to make. Are celebrity photo galleries and cult show recaps worth $1.99/month? Only ‘Time’ will tell.