Hearst UK, which publishes magazines such as Esquire, Elle and Cosmopolitan, has entered into a partnership with the eMagazine platform to make their magazines available digitally to subscribers at the same time as the print editions reach readers.
“Immediately upon purchasing a new subscription, Hearst consumers can now securely access the specially-designed digital edition on any device.”
Austrian magazine Die Presse gave itself a one-year timeline to create a new digital presence. But the media company upped its launch by three months to release before national elections and was rewarded with a spike in conversions of 241 % in the first month of launching.
“Without compromising any of the new design or accessibility features, the team accelerated the timeline and, on September 25 — just four days before the pivotal election — the new digital product went live.”
The Reuters Institute's annual study for 2021 expects more seamless integration of subscription into a wider range of native platform experiences this year, noting that this shift is already under way, led by for instance Apple News+ and Subscribe with Google.
“Podcasts is one area where there is scope for integration – opening up possibilities for publishers to create bundled print and audio subscriptions.”
#ThisIsTucson — a digital vertical of the Arizona Daily Star — has built a non-transactional membership program that it is now using to convert loyal readers into paying subscribers. An article in the Columbia Journalism Review works through how the local outlet identifies super-users, and tailors its messaging and pricing to motivate them to become subscribers.
“Surveys and interviews helped save money and time. Surveyed readers said they would become members if they understood why #ThisIsTucson needed their money [...]”
In a market that is described as significantly less digitally mature than many other European countries, Gazeta Wyborcza, one of Poland's largest newspapers, has nevertheless managed to reach almost a quarter of a million digital subscribers by, among other things, scrapping free trial periods and various pricing models, writes WAN-IFRA.
“Most news [in Poland] is still being consumed on web portals with no paywall, there is no home delivery of newspapers, and there is high resistance to paying with a credit card and automatically recurring payments [...]”
The Reuters Institute's annual study, with 200 media executives participating. shows that a majority of publishers (51%) now put digital subscriptions first. Three quarters of those surveyed state that the corona pandemic has accelerated the digital transition.
“Driving digital subscriptions was rated an important or very important revenue focus for 76% of our sample, ahead of both display and native advertising. The reverse was true when we last asked the question in 2018.”
The newsletter subscription service Substack has enabled well-known journalists to launch profitable personal newsletters. In 2021 the phenomenon of digital subscriptions, that Substack is riding, will increasingly benefit outlets in the middle, between star-journalists and behemoths like New York Times, writes Delia Cai in a prediction for the new year.
“What a relief it is to find that people are finally comfortable — even willing — to pay for relevant and high-quality journalism, especially if it meets a niche that can’t be filled anywhere else, especially when written in voice-y, approachable editions that show up in your inbox like a close friend.”
The aggregation of high-quality journalism through platforms like AppleNews Plus and Substack will lead to the demarcation between “opinion writing” from “straight news” from “user-generated content”, writes Research fellow at Harvard’s Future of Media project Heidi Legg in a prediction of key trends for the news business in 2021.
“Rumours were circulated that Twitter may be interested in Substack. Substack tweeted an unequivocal no. I predict that users will tire of this mosh pit of news and will be willing to pay for a more high-quality digital feed.”