In the summer of 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Felix Gillette wrote about a bold new digital experiment in Slovakia. For just over four dollars a month, consumers were being encouraged to subscribe to a national Internet paywall grouping together the publications of nine different media organizations.
The company behind that technology was Piano Media and today, Gillette notes that they’ve come a long way. The $149.99-$39.99 price-points relaunch of Newsweek marks the Slovakian company’s first foray into the U.S. market and in fact their first digital client of any kind outside Europe:
The timing of Piano Media’s stateside arrival makes a certain kind of sense. As we noted last year, 2014 is shaping up to be the Year of the Paywall for a range of U.S. news publishers hoping to replace rapidly declining ad dollars with a bump in digital subscription revenue. It was only a matter of time before Piano Media’s experimental approach to paywalls, tested in the relatively calm waters of the Slovakian news media, would entice a U.S. publisher looking for a novel way to survive the roiling hell-broth that is the modern magazine market.