The Daily Beast is erecting a paywall — betting people will pay $100 annually to get exclusive access to a bouquet of content, including early access to articles and exclusive newsletters, podcasts and long-read stories. The news site also will solicit opinion pieces from paying members, promising to publish the best submissions.
The news and politics media site, owned by Barry Diller’s IAC holding company, announced the launch of Beast Inside, a new paid membership giving members early access to stories, exclusive series, and members-only newsletters— along with the opportunity to be published on the site itself. Beast Inside is regularly priced at $100 per year, but The Daily Beast is offering early subscribers access for $50 for the first year for a limited time.
The company believes it can attract paying customers from a hardcore fanbase of more than 1 million readers per month (of its 20 million average monthly visitors) who click through almost 50 pages on average per month.
Heather Dietrick, CEO of The Daily Beast, said the $100-per-year tier complements the site’s ad business. “Our audience is passionate about our mission, our voice, our insatiable thirst for scoops, and our take on what’s happening in the world, and Beast Inside allows us to provide them more of what they love through access to exclusive content created just for them,” she said in a statement.
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News sites have had varying degrees of success with charging for access, and heretofore the model has been mainly adopted by business-news publishers like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. Meanwhile, Daily Beast is adopting user-contributed articles even as Huffington Post, now part of Verizon’s Oath group, shut down its unpaid blogger network earlier this year.
It’s not clear exactly how much exclusive material Beast Inside will include on a regular basis.
The Daily Beast said initial behind-the-paywall content will include: Rabbit Hole, a newsletter promising a deep dive on a hot news story; First Look Friday, offering early access to The Daily Beast’s biggest weekend stories; Cheat Sheet Your Way, a customized version of its newsletter allowing members to “choose between Trump-free and politics-only editions”; Omnishambles, a political podcast promising an insider’s take on D.C.; and The Beast Files, monthly serialized long-form pieces on subjects including true-crime stories or real-life adventures. The Your Turn feature, billed as a “modern twist on the letter to the editor,” will give subscribers a chance to have their essays published on The Daily Beast.