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Currant Bun erects £2 paywall: Wraps digi-paper around free footie

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British tabloid The Sun has revealed a subscription plan to access the digital version of the newspaper, Sun+.

The daily is essentially offering a football video package with The Sun's stories wrapped around it, for £2 a week.

Near-live TV clips of Premier League games will be bundled in the deal, as News International's parent News Corp has rights to the games for three years.

The received wisdom in the industry is that the Red Tops' core content of sport and light entertainment is so similar to free web offerings, which are easily substitutable, that few would ever subscribe. But creating a bundle is a canny move. The creation of some scarcity might be the key to success, however, as Premier League match highlights tend to pop-up all over the web, unbidden, and not just on News International sites.

Maintaining the Currant Bun's cheerful brand is the key - but there's no rule that a newspaper's online offering has to resemble the printed version in any way... as the Mail Online has demonstrated with its phenomenally successful cocktail of celebrity and depravity.

If you don't feel at least two waves of nausea reading the Mail Online's front page, then it's having a bad day. Many, if not most, Mail Online stories would never run in the printed paper. As Rupert Murdoch told the Leveson inquiry (PDF), the Mail Online is "unrecognisable as part of the Daily Mail". Murdoch added at the time: "I think [Daily Mail editor] Paul Dacre doesn't have a computer and said to someone else, 'You do this'."

So yes, brand is important, but investing in original digital content isn't necessarily a prerequisite. The Mail competes with gossip blogs by running the same stories, as Murdoch (again) noted: "It comes right up to the barrier of fair use of what is acceptable."

However much of The Sun's appeal is as a daytime downtime diversion, it's a disposable product. And this doesn't translate to any kind of digital format.

Sun+ is launches on 1 August, there's (not much) more detail here.

The Daily Telegraph introduced a subscription last month, with the first 20 articles free. ®

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