Axel Springer has 150,000 online subscribers for Bild tabloid
* CEO says happy there is willingness to pay for content
* Some Bild online content behind paywall since June
* Bild has avg daily print circulation of 2.6 mln copies
BERLIN, Dec 11 (Reuters) - German publisher Axel Springer said it had won around 150,000 paying subscribers for the online edition of its mass circulation tabloid Bild, releasing figures for the first time.
"I am happy that there is a willingness to pay for online content despite heavy competition from free online content," Axel Springer Chief Executive Mathias Doepfner said late on Tuesday in remarks embargoed until Wednesday morning.
He added though there was a long way to go as the print edition of Bild, Germany's top-selling daily, had an average daily print circulation of 2.63 million copies in the third quarter.
The Bild website was changed in mid-June to a so-called "freemium" model, with some content remaining free while items such as exclusive interviews, stories and photos are subject to a charge.
The Berlin-based publisher had introduced a paywall for some online content of its flagship national daily Die Welt late last year, following in the footsteps of several papers like the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and Britain's Times.
Axel Springer has registered more than 47,000 subscribers for the Die Welt website.
The move to the freemium model is part of an acceleration of its digital initiatives, while scaling back traditional operations, which are under pressure.
In July, Axel Springer struck a 920 million euro ($1.3 billion) deal to sell regional newspapers, TV programme guides and women's magazines to free up cash for acquisitions in the digital area. ($1 = 0.7261 euros) (Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik; Writing by Harro ten Wolde and David Holmes)
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