Two of the world’s largest paywall providers are joining forces.
Press+, which runs paid content operations for more than 500 U.S. sites, has been purchased by European investment firm, 3TS Capital Partners, and will merge with the group’s other paywall property, Piano Media. Austria-based Piano operates about 75 paywalls, mainly concentrated in Eastern and Central Europe.
Terms weren’t disclosed, though Neiman Journalism Lab puts the deal at about $45 million. RR Donnelley paid a reported $35 million for the then-fledgling company just three years ago, but had been looking for a buyer since last fall.
Kelly Leach, most recently managing director for The Wall Street Journal’s EMEA division, will head the group as CEO. The company will retain the name Piano Media.
See also: Press+ Expands Internationally
"Paid content has enormous growth potential around the world," says Pekka Måki, managing partner of 3TS, in a statement. "We saw an opportunity to acquire Press+ through Piano Media, our existing portfolio company, consolidating the industry’s two largest players and enabling the combined entity to have unrivalled resources, technology, data and knowledge to help clients further build new sources of revenue."
Press+ founders Gordon Crovitz and Steven Brill will remain as consultants for now, but plan to leave the business soon.
Paywalls have found more success at newspapers than at magazines to this point, but as advertising revenues continue to dwindle, generating reader revenue is becoming a goal for more publishers. Premium products like business intelligence, events and membership models, have been more popular routes than metered paywalls though.