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Spanish newspaper opens paper content to web users, launchs a soft paywall, a complete web redesign and a host of mobile apps.

Spanish newspaper and OPA Europe member El Mundo announced this week a host of digital features and releases that imply a sea change not only in the services it offers to its users, but in its business model as well.

After months of speculation, El Mundo has presented a multi-level system, comprised of free and paid options, to provide access to its digital content. This change has been accompanied by improvements in the free digital content offering of the newspaper and the simultaneous launch of diverse ways to deliver this content to the users.

In a similar fashion to what The New York Times started in 2011, a metered paywall now allows El Mundo website users to visit up to a certain amount of articles per month (25, in this case) for free. Beyond that point, users willing to keep reading news at the site must turn into subscribers, choosing between several plans starting at 4.99 euros per month (0.99 euros monthly during the first three months).

A major change as well, all content originally published in the paper (which previosuly was mostly available in digital form only to subscribers of paid e-kiosk platform Orbyt) is now open to every user for free, as long as he or she has not reached the 25-article monthly limit. The home page, breaking news, live reports, standalone photos, and videos do not count toward the monthly limit. Accesses from social networks and search engines are not taken into account.

The newspaper complemented the change with several new features on the mobile front:

  • A redesigned El Mundo official mobile app for iOS and Android.

  • A brand new mobile-only evening edition service ("El Mundo de la Tarde"), including a daily mini TV news show.

  • A sports scores app (recently launched).

  • A mobile version of El Mundo's socialite magazine LOC is on the way to be launched this month as well.

A 9.99 euros/month plan grants access to all these mobile services in addition to the web content. Paper edition customers (through either their subscriptions or a daily redeemable code) and Orbyt customers are granted unlimited access to the website, mobile apps, and the archive of the printed edition.

Finally, the newspaper website has been redesigned. Not only it presents a more modern and usable look and feel, but the code behind has been aligned with the newest trends, like HTML5, semantic tagging, and high-performance standards. Under this evolution there is a brand new CMS that integrates web and paper publishing with a "web first" approach, allowing journalists to push content to both media from a single interface. A new digital video platform, based in Akamai CDN and open source software Kaltura, is able to provide multibitrate streaming, both live and on demand, up to HD quality.

In his last Sunday Letter from the Editor, Pedro J. Ramírez, editor of El Mundo and Unidad Editorial, wrote: "Despite the fact that, as I have been saying long ago, here there are big values at stake, we do not intend to run a charitative collection in cyberspace. Instead we are going to offer all newspaper content in a flexible and versatile way, letting every reader to choose how much information he or she wants to receive, when and how to receive it, and how much is willing to pay for it."

Related links (in Spanish):

El Mundo's editor explains the new services to the users in a YouTube hangout: http://www.elmundo.es/servicios/retransmisiones/hangout/

El Mundo's new features explained: http://www.elmundo.es/television/2013/11/02/5275681a63fd3dfb628b456b.html

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