What Is a Paywall in Video Monetization?

Blog 6 min read | Oct 18, 2023 | JW Player


Video paywalls have become a necessity in the era of streaming, as creators, publishers, and streaming giants are aiming to profit from their content. But what is a paywall, and what types of paywalls exist? This article will cover the diverse paywall models, from subscription-based to ad-supported, and outline the pros and cons of implementing these strategies.

Let’s get into it!

What is a paywall?

A video paywall is a software feature that forbids access to certain video content. The viewer needs to pay a fee to access the content. Setting up a paywall is a common strategy deployed by publishers, broadcasters, content creators, or streaming service providers to generate revenue from their video content. Paywalls can be employed in various ways:

1. Subscription-based paywall

A subscription-based paywall model requires a recurring fee in exchange for access to a video library. Upon payment, users gain unlimited access to the paywalled content during the subscription period (weekly, monthly, or yearly).

JW Player offers a customizable SVOD (subscription video on demand) model that you can tailor to your audience’s needs. Create packages and subscription tiers and choose from a   variety of payment and access options. For a seamless and branded experience, you can send custom branded paywall and post-payment email notifications.

Popular streaming services that use this model are Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

2. Pay-per-view

Unlike the subscription-based model, the TVOD (transactional video on demand) model allows viewers to purchase video content on a per-view basis. Typically, users can either buy video content with permanent access, or rent it for a certain amount of time.

TVOD finds its main use in special events, such as sporting events or concerts.

JW Player also offers this monetization model where you can charge for video content on a per collection or a per video asset basis.

3. Ad-supported paywall

The AVOD (advertisement video on demand) model offers free video content but inserts ads throughout the videos to generate revenue.

Creators or platforms can gain revenue through clicks, ad impressions, or other metrics. Since viewers have no direct costs, the AVOD model has become increasingly effective in attracting wide audiences.

With JW Player’s outstream and instream ad capabilities and ad integrations, you can maximize your ad revenue.

4. Metered paywall

A metered paywall gives users a limited number of videos for free before it requires them to pay for further access. That being said, the metered paywall isn’t as common in video streaming as it is in news publications and online magazines.

The New York Times is known to use this model for its digital articles.

5. Hybrid model

Some video providers choose hybrid models for their content libraries. For example, a streaming service could have a subscription-based model while also charging per view for certain exclusive videos or events.

Hybrid paywall models are optimal if you want to increase flexibility and engagement for both paying and free users.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Paywall

Implementing a video paywall in your content strategy comes with a set of benefits and drawbacks.

Advantages of a Paywall

  • Revenue Generation: The main benefit of setting up a paywall is the direct and consistent source of revenue. Content creators, publishers, or broadcasters can use this revenue to produce high-quality content, improve their offering, and sustain their operations.
  • Exclusivity: A paywall allows viewers to access premium content they can’t find anywhere else, creating higher demand for your videos.
  • Content Quality Control: Paywalls enable creators to maintain control over their content and its distribution. This can help protect against unauthorized sharing and piracy.
  • Data and Analytics: Paywall services like JW Player’s provide real-time insights into user behavior, viewing habits, and preferences. You can then use this data to tailor your content and marketing strategy for maximum engagement.

Disadvantages of a Paywall

  • Audience Limitation: While offering exclusive content may increase the interest of audiences, not all users are willing to pay for content access. This might reduce the reach of your offering.
  • Subscription Fatigue: Subscription fatigue is defined as a feeling of being overwhelmed by having to pay for several subscription services. Therefore, users might resist adding another monthly expense to access paywalled content.
  • Setup and Maintenance: Setting up a paywall may require higher technical expertise, as well as ongoing maintenance. It may also impose additional fees for hosting and security.

How to Choose a Paywall Solution

Selecting the right paywall solution for your video content should be one of your priorities. To make the right choice, consider the following factors:

  • Content Type: Consider the type of content you wish to monetize. Is your niche short videos, live events, or full-length movies? Different paywall solutions are better suited for specific content types.
  • Payment Models: Depending on your audience and content, you can set up your payment plans as a one-time payment or a recurring fee. Choose the one that aligns with your audience and content.
  • User Experience: Consider the user experience, from registration and payment processes to content access. Choose a platform that offers customization options for your paywall, such as post-payment notifications or personalized messages. A seamless user experience is guaranteed to keep your viewers engaged.
  • Content Protection: Look for a content paywall solution that provides high-level security features to protect your content from illegal downloading and distribution.
  • Data and Analytics: A paywall service with comprehensive data analytics tools will help you get a better understanding of your audience and refine your content strategy.

JW Player’s Paywall Solution

JW Player recently acquired InPlayer to provide a versatile paywall solution. Here are some of its key features:

  • Global authentication and payment processing: To expand the reach of your content globally, you can use JW Player’s multi-language interfaces, multi-currency support and geo-pricing options. Additionally, you can set up in-app purchases for a unique, branded experience.
  • Customization options: Create engaging experiences without the need for further development or coding. Choose between a prebuilt paywall theme that blends in with the design of your page or a white-label, fully configurable theme.
  • Identity management: With JW Player’s identity management, you are in control of all of your subscriber’s data. You can then leverage that information to gain insights into consumer behavior and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
  • User tracking and management: Track and manage user accounts to gain valuable data for your retention strategy. Moreover, you can restrict content access based on domains, location, age, or login sessions.
  • Security and data compliance: JW Player prioritizes user security, meaning your customers’ data will be protected with ongoing compliance. The platform’s systems are protected by PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry), GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and CCPA (California Consumer’s Privacy Act).

Final Thoughts

A paywall software is a valuable tool in effective content monetization. Overall, when choosing a paywall solution, it’s important to consider all of the key elements of your content distribution strategy, including your content type and preferred payment models. That said, JW Player’s paywall service is an ideal option, offering adaptive streaming, customization, security, analytics, and audience growth tools.