BBC Global News, which provides BBC World News Channel and BBC.com, has suggested looking into launching a subscription model to help with their finances, after seeing other news providers try it with "significant success".
“BBC Global News faced a “significant challenge” to stay profitable even before Covid-19 hit and was told to reduce costs by £12m a year by the National Audit Office in 2018.”
Sports Illustrated, the American sports magazine published since 1964, has decided to set up a metered paywall, because a business model solely based on advertising exposes the magazine to market forces that can't be controlled, according to the magazine.
“Through the decades we’ve supported our journalism in two ways: with print and digital advertising, and thanks to an extremely loyal audience of magazine subscribers that’s still nearly two million strong. Now, with the unveiling today of a metered paywall at SI.com, we’re creating a new path to ensure SI’s continued growth and excellence.”
In its fourth-quarter earnings report, The New York Times Company said 2020 was its biggest year for adding subscribers. After adding 2.3 million digital-only subscriptions last year, more than in any previous year, The Times exceeded 7.5 million subscriptions for its digital products and print newspaper.
“In the fourth quarter, digital subscription revenue was $167 million, a 37 percent jump from the final months of 2019. For the year, it was $598.3 million, a 30 percent rise.”
The New York Times is working on building a subscription product for its consumer reviews site Wirecutter. The site, which currently uses an affiliate model, was purchased by New York Times for more than $30 million in 2016.
“On Thursday, Times executives noted that losses in revenue from its television series The Weekly and live events in 2020 were partially offset by higher Wirecutter referral revenue.”
The Telegraph shifted to a subscriber-first focus in 2019. A kew lever in its strategy is social media and the brand currently has 16 million followers. To optimize and automate Facebook as a platform for bringing in subscribers, The Telegraph is using a social media AI solution to curate and schedule posts.
“Giving to our audience and showing them respect in this way does eventually lead to subscription. Social media therefore plays an important role in driving subs, and it will only get bigger from now on.”
Washington Post's newly appointed Instagram editor has set his sights on converting the magazine's followers on social media into paying subscribers. This will be done by, among other things, giving the account the feel of a "newspaper that delivers news" rather than focusing on images.
“The biggest end game is to grow our subscribers,” said Mark Smith, director of social and operations at The Washington Post. Instagram “is where we can introduce The Washington Post to people that will be a big asset going forward.”
New York Times picked up 627,000 subscribers last quarter, up to a total of 7.5 million. With this growth-rate, their once lofty goal of having 10 million subscribers by 2025 now doesn't look ambitious enough, writes Poynter.
“The Times estimates the potential market for paid digital news in English worldwide to be 100 million people. “It is not hard to imagine that, over time,” [CEO Meredith Kopit Levien] said, the company could have “two, three or four times that.” That would be 15 to 30 million subscribers.”
Most media produce too much content, but doing less is sometimes the better strategy, according to TheFix. Many publishers have seen that by trimming the number of articles they publish, and focusing their efforts, audience traffic, time spent on the site, and in turn subscription numbers, go up.
“The theory is quite simple: analyze all your content, sort articles into different groups according to their return (drives a lot of page views, a lot of time spent, sells a lot of subscriptions). At the bottom of that excel file you will find those underperforming pieces.”