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Feb. 13, 2012, 11 a.m.
Winter Symmetry in the Cold Morning ~ Liptov, Slovakia

Piano Media bumps up Slovak paywall price 25 percent

The company continues to argue that philosophy, not socioeconomic status, determines a customer’s willingness to pay for news.

Winter Symmetry in the Cold Morning ~ Liptov, Slovakia

Piano Media, the company that wants to put national paywalls all over Europe, is raising the subscription price for its pilot paywall in Slovakia by about 25 percent.

The all-inclusive package covering 12 news sites will rise in price March 1, from €0.99 per week to €1.39; €2.90 per month to €3.90; or €29 per year to €39. Customers can lock in the current yearly rate if they sign up before March 1.

Last month, after Piano expanded into Slovenia at a higher price, the company’s CEO told me his customers’ willingness to pay did not correlate with income but with a broader opposition to paying for online content. Piano appears willing to commit to that hypothesis.

“After having tested the Slovak market since May 2011 we feel that opposition to payment at this point is not socio-economic but rather philosophical,” said Piano spokesman David Brauchli in an email today. “And so those who are going to pay will pay whether the price is €2.90 or €3.90 per month.”

The company says it never intended to maintain the introductory pricing in Slovakia, but to gently introduce Slovaks to the concept of paid news content.

Update: Brauchli tells me weekly subscriptions — which users can pay for via SMS — are the most popular option for new accounts, but most renewals are for monthly or yearly subscriptions, which are less expensive overall.

Here is the full release from Piano Media:

Piano Media Ups Slovak Subscription Prices

Introductory pricing ends March 1, prices to increase from €2.90 to €3.90 per month

Bratislava, Slovakia, Feb. 13 – Piano Media, the European enterprise that manages Slovakia’s online common-payment subscription system for media content providers, is raising the price for digital reader access March 1 from €2.90 to €3.90 per month. With steady revenue and reader growth established, Piano’s pricing structure moves into its next development phase after gaining broad acceptance by Slovakia’s digital readers.

“We never intended to keep the price at the introductory level,” Piano’s CEO Tomáš Bella explained. “We wanted the system to become accepted before phasing out the initial price. That was one of the things we had agreed upon with our participating publishers.” Prices will go from €.99 to €1.39 weekly, €2.90 to €3.90 monthly and from €29 to €39 for a year’s subscription.

Nevertheless, Piano will grandfather in all digital reader who purchase a Piano subscription prior to the price hike. Bella said, “The number of our subscribers is still going up. More and more people are telling us that they were against the concept at first but now have gotten used to the idea and already feel comfortable with paying.”

Bella noted initially he had expected opposition to Piano’s payment to be socio-economic. instead, it was philosophical. He concluded, “Recently, I saw one post on Facebook that said: ‘You know what? I woke up one day and realized I did not know why I was against Piano all the time. And now I have paid.’ ”

There are 12 publishing houses with more than 50 different sites and services within Piano’s Slovak system.

Piano is the European leader in providing online payment solutions for media publishers. Its innovative platform allows Slovak and Slovenian publishers to monetize content through subscription. Digital readers pay only once for access to all content on any Piano site, a model similar to cable TV. Piano’s success has drawn wide-ranging interest from publishers world-wide.

In May, 2011, Piano Media changed online media publishing forever when it launched its national common payment system in Slovakia that netted over €40,000 in its first month of operations. In January 2012, Piano joined with publishers in Slovenia implementing a second national subscription system. Piano is in negotiations with publishers in 11 European countries and has plans to launch in more European markets by the end of 2012.

Photo of Liptov, Slovakia, by Martin Sojka used under a Creative Commons license

POSTED     Feb. 13, 2012, 11 a.m.
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