Herald-Sun PaywallThe Herald Sun will officially launch Super Footy’s new subscription service today with their online site charging people for premium content. In previous years The Herald Sun has allowed readers to browse through their online site free of charge, but the time cost, we’re told, was becoming too much.

Journalists such as Mark Robinson were spending most of their weekend writing online content in such columns as ‘The Tackle’ which meant less time to write for the print edition. Some people see this as a small mercy, but business is business.

The Herald Sun is aware that many people will be against paying for previously free content, citing that they are expecting to have some “dramatic responses.”

Questions were raised regarding whether there would be many changes to the current SuperFooty website and those at the Herald Sun regarded the move as “refining what we’ve got.”

Those who opt not to take up the subscription offer can still view the news and basic SuperCoach stats which can be found on other news providers such as the AFL website. To access ‘premium’ content requires a subscription of $1 a week on top of an existing $5 to $8 per week dead-tree-and-digital subscription, or it is included as part of a $3 per week digital subscription.

Premium content includes:

• Exclusive columns by Mark Robinson and other Herald Sun journalists
• Ability to link your SuperCoach team with your SuperFooty account
• Live SuperCoach scores play by play as they happen, including highlighting your SuperCoach players as they pick up points (though, inexplicably, other sites offer live scoring for free)
• New forward-line stats which detail how effective each team has been inside their forward-line
• New interface which works faster and is more user friendly than previous editions

Many critics argue that the cost will deter people from subscribing. While The Herald Sun admitted that selling this concept to customers may be tough, they believe that they are “entering a new world” and are “leading the way” for other online news sites. But is it enough to get people tapping in their credit card numbers?

While the official SuperFooty section launches tomorrow, readers have a free introductory two-month subscription. History, that of the UK in particular, suggests that drop-off after the free period is high.

Is the specialised SuperFooty experience as a whole compelling enough to keep people paying? Will locking up content and interactivity kill growth against the AFL’s official and heavily publicised Dream Team competition?

If you are a fan who is fanatical about their SuperCoach and in-depth statistics, take the paid subscription.

For those who just need the basics, they’re freely available on other sites. The key selling point is the interactivity within SuperFooty. If you need that, then it might just be worth the extra $50 a year.