Subscription Media: Feb 2, 2021

By  Recuro
Feb 2nd 2021
Read time: 
3 minutes
Table of contents


1. Business Insider did nothing when the pandemic hit. It worked – Wall Street Journal

The business-news site generated 30% revenue growth in 2020, to $150 million in revenue and turning to profit, according to sources, despite the Covid-19 crisis, thanks in part to a burgeoning subscriptions business.

“Across American corporations, leaders were responding to the Covid-19 crisis with a flurry of activity and strategy shifts. Mr. Blodget persuaded the company’s owner, German media conglomerate Axel Springer SE , to do nothing and let the storm pass. It worked.”

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2. Daily Nation, the largest newspaper in Kenya, adopts a paywall — and predicts more African-owned publications will, too – Nieman Lab

The Nairobi-based newspaper Daily Nation — the largest in Kenya — is adopting a paywall in what appears to be a first for African-owned media in the region. More will follow, according to the newspaper’s editorial director.

“Am I saying advertising will disappear? Not a chance. But I am saying that, in the current scheme of things, the bulk of the advertising money does not end up with the content creator and, therefore, the creator can’t continue creating unless an alternative source of revenue is found to sustain its operations.”

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3. The slow-journalism site Tortoise has nearly 50,000 paying subscribers – PressGazette

The British site Tortoise lost all its non-subscriptions revenue in early March last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it also grew its paid-for members by about 50% in 2020.

“Membership ranges from £80 (full price) to £50 for a team member with other packages for businesses and free subscriptions for students. So the title could potentially be making in excess of £3m a year.”

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4. Facebook is said to be planning newsletter tools – with paid subscriptions functionality – to court independent writers – New York Times

Newsletters are booming as publishers and start-ups seek new ways to attract and support independent writers, and Facebook’s product which is still in its earliest stages, could be similar to those of other newsletter companies such as Substack, according to New York  Times’ sources.

“Facebook executives believe that while they have improved relations with major publishers, the company had not yet developed a way to court individual writers to publishing their work on Facebook.”

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5. Latin American newspapers bet on digital subscriptions – Jakarta Post

Facing a major slump in printed newspaper sales and advertising revenue, Latin America’s press is fighting for survival — and increasingly betting on paid digital subscriptions as readers turn to the internet.

“With newsrooms shrinking as major cost cuts lead to layoffs, newspapers are seeking to persuade readers that it is worth paying for quality journalism, even online.”

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1. Why Gannett’s CEO thinks the company can reach 10 million paid digital subscribers within 5 years – Poynter

As previously reported, the newspaper chain Gannett has set a gol oaf reaching 10 million digital subscribers in 5 years, up from 1 million today. Speaking to Poynter, Gannett’s CEO Mike Reed explains his reasoning, mentioning for instance that only 6,6 % of Gannett’s audience needs to subscribe for them to reach their goal.

“Wasn’t the NYTimes site free when they embarked on their paid digital subscription strategy? The answer is yes. They took their site of unique visitors, coming there for free, and started to convert them to paid. When you think about it that way, we are embarking on a similar and proven path.”

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2. Media subscriptions predictions and the “end of history” mistake – TheFix

Every industry suffers from bad takes or temporary manias. Yet the media seems to be uniquely rich in predictions that predict the future with great confidence and then turn out to be wrong. writes TheFix’ Jakub Parusinski in reference to the often mentioned notion that “a couple of huge players are going to eat all subscriptions, super-stars will launch their own thing and everyone else is doomed”.

“Yes, 2020 has been a huge pain for a lot of publishers. But a lot of media also had a great year – even local publishers. Newsletters are booming, and while the attention is on the stars, a lot of smaller writers are also doing fairly. Podcasts are taking off.”

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3. “Beginning of a newsletter arms race:” How publishers are set to benefit as platforms vie for premium content – What’s New in Publishing

Twitter’s acquisition of Revue, is the “latest piece of evidence that we are in the beginning of a newsletter arms race,” and that means better options and more opportunities for writers and publishers alike, writes What’s New in Publishing in an analysis.

“Email helps build habit and loyalty and is often a “critical weapon in reducing churn,” according to Reuters Institute Digital News Report ​2020.”

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