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Pay what you want

By , 11 November 2019



Credit: American Press Institute.

Are consumers willing to pay for online content? It appears that winemag.co.za readers are. Last week, we announced that in future we would only report on the outcomes of blind panel tastings, the rationale being that this is fairer to all producers and we therefore hoped to attract more entries.

The reaction was overwhelming, the vast majority of you expressing disappointment at this proposed course of action and, most encouragingly, committing to paying for content.

Consequently, we’ve had a re-think. We’ll keep sighted and blind tastings (as they serve different purposes) but we’re asking you take action TODAY to underwrite us – we recently added a contribution application to the site and you need to use it right now.

This is not a charity request. Media companies are having a tough time in general. Nobody is covering South African fine wine as timeously and with more credibility than us. We need your money to continue to get the job done. We may have to introduce a paywall but sincerely hope it does not come to that.

Our respectful suggestion is R600 a year – that’s slightly less than what you pay for a bottle of Kanonkop Paul Sauer – or R50 a month. We are aiming to raise R300 000 by the end of 2020 – help us reach that target.

To contribute, click here.

Invoice available upon request – contact info@winemag.co.za


10 comment(s)

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    James Mark | 19 November 2019

    Excellent idea . How about just a subscription of say R2k p.a. – it costs about that for Jancis Robinson’s site p.a.
    We don’t want to lose a key voice of SA wine.
    Happy to talk/walk through ideas with you Christian, I have a few 🙂
    BTW I’m in for a year already at the R2k mark 🙂
    No free lunches!

    Michael Fridjhon | 13 November 2019

    If WineMag, to survive, needs reader support then readers must have a clear message about how to go about this. I suggest you indicate what content will not be behind a paywall.
    I suggest that your category tastings are free to all, because the producers have paid to submit their wines, and expect you to publicise the results. Some of the content – Joanne Gibson’s historical research, for example – is so valuable we should be paying for it anyway. So, clearly, should the notes/scores on wines which are not included in the blind tasting line-up.
    Then I think you need to put a number to the subscription amount and get on with it.

    Francois | 12 November 2019


    I agree with your plan, but this process is amateurish and haphazard to say the least.
    If you reach R300,000, how long will those who donated be privy to premium content?
    If you don’t reach R300,000, will we get a refund?
    If I contribute less than R600 will I still get access to premium content, or will you ask me to contribute the shortfall if you do reach the R300,000 threshold and decide to continue with this venture?
    What other changes / improvements to the existing site and model will we see if you do receive enough funding?
    You’re expecting your readers to take a leap of faith but you’re not outlining any details. It feels like a hit-and-hope approach and with a bit of thought you could have communicated this far better and made a more convincing argument to encourage readers to become subscribers.
    Be that as it may, I’ve read this site daily for more than a year so I’ll contribute and blindly follow the other lemmings over the cliff into the Winemag abyss.

      Christian Eedes | 12 November 2019

      Hi Francois, We are implementing this in the spirit of a pivot – readers paying for content has always seemed an impossible dream but after the recent direct feedback that many like the site just the way it is, we feel that now is the time to test how viable this is.

      Roll out inevitably has to be work in progress. We are currently implementing a “Pay What You Want” model – R600 per year or R50 per month is our suggested price – those who contribute now will have access until December 2020. Once the initial funding drive is over and should the paywall be put in place, then premium content will be reserved for subscribers only.

      Regardless of how successful the funding drive is or not, we are committed to both sighted and blind reviews in 2020. Full details concerning an exciting new programme of blind tastings for next year coming soon.

        Francois | 12 November 2019

        Thanks for clarifying Christian, as you’ve seen I’m already onboard and looking forward to another year of new discoveries.

    Duncan | 11 November 2019

    Good to hear.

    As a midpoint between totally free and paid content, it may be worth considering patreon or similar.

    It’s more transparent and patrons can get access to, say, exclusive additional content and be invited to patron-only events. There can also be different rewards for different tiers of contribution.

    Frankly, I’m surprised Winemag doesn’t organise events. Readers would pay a premium (I certainly would) for guided tastings from our trusted critics.

    There is also scope for affiliate content that, clearly marked, wouldn’t undermine the publication’s editorial integrity and would allow for a potentially profitable new marketing channel.

      Christian Eedes | 12 November 2019

      Hi Duncan, Thank you for your suggestions. We are in discussion with our developers about how best to implement the paywall, Patreon being one of the options.

    Jonathan Snashall | 11 November 2019

    bit confused, if one makes a contribution pre paywall, what would post paywall amount be? Or no reconciliation?

      Christian Eedes | 12 November 2019

      Hi Jonathan, Contributions made now will serve as subscription fees should the paywall be put up, i.e. we’ll supply all those who commit to the cause now with the means to see behind the paywall in the unfortunate event that we are compelled to go this route.

    Rioja | 11 November 2019

    cool – will do.
    long live winemag!!

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