It was inevitable. Or was it? Either way, Philly.com is officially now behind a paywall, blocking its content from nonsubscribers, who are now only allowed to read 10 articles per month.
The move sparked an immediate, vitriolic response among some readers.
"F— you too," KenBoneFan#1 raged on Twitter. "Enjoy losing all of your readers with that dumbass paywall."
"Inqy clickbait isn't worth it!" declared Peltidelphia. Iggles Phan opined that the paywall is a "terrible business decision" and predicted Philly.com will go "the way of the Evening and Sunday Bulletin."
Indeed, Philly.com is no longer free. As of Sept. 5, nonsubscribers only get 10 free articles per month. After that, you will be blocked from reading the website and asked to sign up for a subscription. Digital subscriptions cost $12 a month, while digital and print Inquirer seven days per week costs $16 a month.
Paywalls are controversial among free-content-loving internet users, but they are used mainly by major news sites like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
On Philly Reddit, users were reportedly already sharing a method to sneak around the paywall. Sports professor and Metro columnist Glen Macnow rebuked those taking that path: "I'm not here to carry Philly.com's water. But if you're sneaking around the paywall, isn't that the same as stealing a newspaper?"
Nonetheless, Philadelphia Media Network (PMN), the nonprofit which owns and operates the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, is reporting success with the move.
"Just over a week after our new meter was implemented on Philly.com, we are pleased at the rate at which our site visitors are becoming subscribers," the organization said in a statement released Thursday. "The numbers are ahead of our projections and we're finding that many digital subscribers are adding new print subscriptions as well. This is great news for the future of independent local journalism in Philadelphia."
Of course, you can always read MetroPhilly.us for free in print and online. But since Philly.com subscribers seem to be on the rise (specific numbers were not released), it seems that if they can't get its content for free, readers are willing to pay for it.
The rollout didn't go completely smoothly. A number of users reported being blocked from the site as soon as the "meter" was implemented, without any warning about an article limit. PMN says those issues are being addressed.
"Rolling out a new digital subscription model comes with challenges on both the operation and technical sides," they said. "Our team is working hard on fixes for the edge cases that individual users have reported. We're confident we can address these subscribers' concerns."
Bugs or not, you'll still be paying to read their coverage – which, in the Inquirer's case, has won some 20 Pulitzer Prizes.
But we'll still be offering all the news you need to know – for free – in print and online at MetroPhilly.us.