One by one, Indian newspapers look over their shoulders and start climbing the pay wall, but will readers give a leg up?

Squeezed on multiple fronts, including by their own imagination, India’s leading English newspapers are slowly getting into “pay mode” in the post-COVID season to generate revenue.

The Times of India group, which led the race to the bottom with predatory pricing and dumping, now offers a monthly subscription for Rs 200 for its e-paper editions i.e. Rs 2,400 per year.

TOI currently offers a combo rate of Rs 7 on week days, along with Mumbai Mirror or The Economic Times which have a cover price of Rs 3, or Maharashtra Times, which is priced at Rs 4.

So, roughly ToI’s offline and e-paper rates are the same, unless you read all the papers in mulitple languages.

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The Hindu, which commanded a higher cover price even while experimenting with differential pricing (Rs 10 in Bombay; Rs 7 in Hyderabad; Rs 5 in Chennai) and went partially pay before COVID is offering the group’s publications for Rs 2,400 per year, and just the main paper for Rs 900 per year, or Rs 2.50 a day.

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And the e-paper of The Indian Express is at Rs 1,000 per year, i.e. Rs 83 per month, which works out to Rs 2.75 per day, which is lower than the cover price of its print edition: Rs 5.

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Then again, will discerning readers pay for the digital editions when they get the PDFs for free?

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