Overseas Launch of digital subscriptions for SMH and the Age



- Metered model gives access to free articles every month before prompt to subscribe - 
- Websites subscription costs $15 per month - 
- First regions to be introduced late March: North America, Europe & Middle East - 

March 19, 2013: Fairfax Media today announced that digital subscriptions to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald websites and mobile sites will be introduced on March 26, 2013 for readers in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Australia, New Zealand and other AsiaPacific countries will follow mid-year. 

The meter 
The Age and SMH digital subscriptions will use a meter that allows readers to access a number of articles free every month before being invited to subscribe. The meter will be set at 10 articles for readers using overseas computer, or IP, addresses. The number of free articles will be set higher in domestic markets, reflecting the different consumption patterns. 

Fairfax’s Metro Media CEO Jack Matthews said the company was confident the metered approach to digital subscriptions was the right way to go. 

“We’ve researched and tested digital subscriptions extensively. The meter model is proving to be the most successful with publishers overseas because it’s easy to understand and it enables less frequent readers to continue to visit the websites, just as they do now.” 

“The landscape has changed enormously over the past few years and our readers understand that we must introduce subscriptions so we can keep bringing them the best in digital news innovation. Our products are market leaders and are in great shape for these changes.” 

Learning from publishers who already have metered subscriptions, there will be a number of items which are not included in the metered count of articles. 

Readers can visit the masthead homepages as often as they wish and view photo galleries and videos without those visits counting in their free article allocation. After readers have reached their free limit, they are welcome to continue reading by following a link from a search engine, social media, or from within a email newsletter from Fairfax Media. 

Package & price 

Initially, there will be one subscription package available to overseas subscribers – unlimited website access from any device for $15 a month. This package will give users access to unlimited articles at theage.com.au or smh.com.au on any device. 

”It was always our plan to launch into overseas markets first to test our technology and to make sure the customer experience is a good one,” said Mr Matthews. 

At the domestic launch there will be additional subscription types available which will include tablet apps and “all digital access” packages, as well as bundles that include weekend and daily print home delivery. 

The tablet apps for The Age and the SMH will remain free in every country until digital subscriptions are released in Australia later this year. When these packages are introduced, the tablet apps will follow a “freemium” subscription model that has several free sections and others available only for subscribers. Details about tablet app subscriptions will be released closer to their launch. 

Print subscriber access

Current two-day or more print home delivery subscribers will automatically receive full digital access in their packages. 

Extra features

“Subscribers will not only receive unlimited access to articles but also access to a new range products and exclusive features,” Mr Matthews said. Those extra features will include:

  • “Zoom”: a new research tool that has been developed in partnership with The University of Sydney that unlocks the Fairfax archives.
  • “Shortbooks”: interactive eBooks curated by Fairfax journalists on specialist topics. 
  • Unique offers, event invitations and access to other digital products through the My Benefits reward program for Australian resident subscribers. 

Fairfax editors and reporters have taken to video to help explain to readers why the SMH and The Age are introducing digital subscriptions. 

They are accompanied by a list of FAQs for readers covering more details. The videos and the FAQs links below are to the pages our Australian readers will see: 

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Downloadable PDF  (PDF 38.8KB)


About Fairfax Media
Fairfax Media is a leading Australasian media company with metropolitan, rural and regional publications and websites across Australia and New Zealand. Fairfax Media publishes the highly respected metropolitan publications The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age along with Australia’s leading online news websites smh.com.au, theage.com.au, Brisbanetimes.com.au and WAtoday.com.au. Other niche websites include the popular parenting website Essentialbaby.com.au and the youth site TheVine.com.au. The company has a large stable of successful websites in key vertical markets including RSVP.com.au, Stayz.com.au, InvestSmart.com.au, OMG, Australian Property Monitors, Commerce Australia, TenderLink and the recently acquired Occupancy. Fairfax Media also has a strong classified advertising business with print and online publications including: Drive, MyCareer, and Domain. 

Media inquiries to:
Brad Hatch
T: +612 9282 2168
E: bhatch@fairfaxmedia.com.au