Softly, softly paywall launch for Fairfax

Fairfax has gone for a softly, softly approach for its paywall launch across the Tasman.

From today, Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age readers get 30 free articles a month under a "metered" paywall approach.

Once they hit that limit, they pay $A1 for their first month's access, then $A15 for subsequent months. A $A25 sub adds tablet apps. Curiously, a third offer, which adds weekend newspapers, is also $A25 (see graphic right for more).

Print subscribers get free access - a great way to get an instant army of digital subscribers, if not any new revenue.

The Australasian publisher is expected to follow the same model if or when it introduces a paywall for Stuff and other online properties in its stable here.

The metered paywall approach is mooted as better for social sharing, and attracting search engine traffic. With most newspapers refusing to reveal how many of their online "subscribers" are print readers with complementary access, their success is hard to gauge. 

The New York Times - the most famous example of a metered paywall - launched with 20 free articles in 2011, which it tightened to 10 last year - resulting in a slowdown in signups.

ABOVE: Four randomly chosen Australians seem extremely happy with their paywall options.