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Nation, The Star Quietly Discontinue Paywall, Registration Requirements Over Decline in Site Visits

Local publications seem to have discontinued registration and paywall requirements for readers to access articles on their websites. A spot check by KahawaTungu revealed that readers are no longer required make payments to access articles on Nation Africa, The Standard and The Star websites.

The Standard still requires users to log in to access premium articles, while The Star and Nation Africa seem to have scraped the requirement altogether.

The e-versions of the newspapers are still available for sale, but not through the paywall. Before adjusting the requirements, Nation Africa were charging Sh10 per day to access premium articles on their site with weekly and monthly payment options for users who wished to subscribe for a longer period. Currently, the Standard charges Sh20 for the full e-newspaper, but only requires users to log in to read premium articles. The Star only required users to log in to read the stories, but now that requirement has been scraped.

Read: Print Media Circulation on the Decline as Digital Publications Gain More Traffic

The mainstream media publications premiered the registration and pay wall restrictions for premium stories in 2021 after a report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) showed a decline in the consumption of print media.

According to the report, 62.9 million copies of daily English newspapers were circulated in 2020 compared to 94.3 million sold in 2016.The main hard copy publications include the Nation, the Standard and The Star Newspapers. Only 3.5 Kiswahili Newspapers were sold in 2020 compared to 4.4 million in 2016. The main Swahili publication in the country is Nation Media Group’s Taifa Leo. Weekly Newspapers also had very little sales, with 9.9 million copies sold in 2020 compared to 13.7 million in 2016.

The development of paywalls was lauded as a big step in Kenya’s media industry when it was rolled out last year. It is however not clear why the media houses have chosen to discontinue it. Word on the grapevine is that they recorded reduced website visits plus low subscription. The Nation Africa and The Standard websites reportedly fell off the top 20 most visited sites in Kenya after the introduction of the subscription models.

Read also: Tanzania Suspends Another Newspaper For Publishing False Information

Nation Africa dropped from position 2 in the top Kenyan websites in 2020 to position 25 in 2022 while Standard Media dropped from position 3 in 2020 to 29 in 2022. Although the media houses have not issued a statement regarding the current changes, it is evident that a decline in website visits could have very well influenced the decision.

Users on Twitter said they only paid for a few specific articles occasionally but not consistently. Others said the stories were not subscription-worthy.

“They are good but not subscription-worthy. I used to read him before the @NationAfrica
paywall came up, and then I haven’t since then. And you know what, I don’t miss his writing.” a tweep said in regards to an author’s articles in Nation Africa.

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