Media paywall in Indonesia

Media paywall in Indonesia

By Jessica Damiana

Because quality journalism costs both time and money

Before the internet, people had to spend money to buy print media, or to buy a radio or television set, to get access to the news.

Media outlets generate revenue through a combination of business models, for example by advertising, hosting events, advertorials, and product placements. Many media companies now put up a paywall, as to create an additional income stream. Having a paywall means that readers cannot access news some articles, without being a paying subscriber.

kumparan+’s Editor, Dea Anugrah explained that newsrooms need money to pay its workers. Media paywalls are becoming a norm, as Indonesians become more familiar with online shopping and purchasing items using e-wallets. ‘’The paywall trend in mainstream media also indicate that this is the right time to invest in ourselves,’’ said the CEO of, Wiku Baskoro. The gaming news site launched a paywall in October 2020.

‘’It (a paywall) is very effective. Subscribers keep growing monthly and this helps our operational costs, along with advertising revenue and other collaborations,’’ said the Editor-in-Chief of, Fathan Qorib Zein. The legal news site introduced its paywall in September 2020.
Dea explained that Indonesian media consumers are very used to reading free news articles and it is hard to implement a paywall for hard news. ‘’At kumparan+, we offer a wide array of content such as in-depth articles, finance, career, relationships, and well-being,’’ he said.

kumparan+ only features articles written by content creators and in-depth articles by its journalists.

‘’kumparan aims to be a financially independent outlet. If we rely solely on advertising revenue, it can cause a strain on an independent newsroom,’’ Dea said. Many advertisers do not allow media outlets to cover their companies after advertising deals.

Wiku elaborated that the idea of paying for information on the internet is not as popular as paying for print media. ‘’Netizens think that the internet is free, so paying for news articles don’t make sense. The key is to have an added value to your articles, interest them in a way they cannot say no to, and that will drive them to eventually pay for news,’’ he said.

Just like Wiku, Dea said that kumparan+ only feature articles that are relevant to readers’ demands. ‘’We choose themes that our readers find relatable.  The Holy Month of Ramadan is coming soon, so we will feature articles that are related to religion and how to manage your religious holiday bonuses,’’ he said.

So far, kumparan+ targets readers who are financially independent and live in big cities. It also works with companies to offer them subscriptions, to use kumparan+ as a perk for their employees. It costs Rp20,000 per month to subscribe. 

‘’We are committed to publish one new article per day, so we can reach out 10 content creators at once to make sure we have new content every day,’’ said Dea.

Wiku explained that the difference between free news articles and premium content at are in the quality, depth, and angle of the story. ‘’Premium content articles can take around two days to complete, we provide more insights, show data, interviews and analyses. Free news articles revolve around everyday gaming news, short profiles, and features that are not as in-depth,’’ he said.
Story ideas can come from anywhere for’s premium content. It can be from reporters’ own ideas, what’s currently trending, or pitches from external parties. ‘’We will brainstorm first, whether pitches are relevant or not, then we will analyse, and try to see the bigger picture or maybe a specific angle,’’ Wiku said.
Premium content at is also available in English. Its subscribers are people in the e-sports ecosystem, media, and everyday Indonesians. The outlet charges Rp3,000 to read one article or Rp100,000 for six months subscription time. 
Meanwhile, charges Rp42,000 per month. ‘’Premium stories articles are more comprehensive, as we feature data, rule of law, doctrine, jurisprudence, and in-depth analyses on a certain law issue,’’ Fathan said.

Paywall is now an additional income stream for various media outlets.

Fathan elaborated that readers are mostly people working in the legal sector and academicians. Other than premium stories, also has PRO, an intelligence service that provides legal briefs.
‘’I believe that by offering a wide array of content, people would want to pay for news - especially on content related to self-improvement, as that is answering to the needs of the market,’’ Dea said.

Wiku added that since the paywall is new, revenue from it still has not replaced earnings from advertising or events. ‘’We still conduct surveys on our readers to find out which format or content that fits them best,’’ he said.

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