Many major media brands, such as The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NPR and Sunday Times have used their prestige as a platform to launch subscription wine clubs. Some of them have seen an increase in signups since the pandemic began in March.
“Jane Scott, head of consumer products at NPR, says that the club has seen a significant increase in signups since the pandemic began in March, a boon to the already strong, high-retention subscriber base.”
Nearly 60% of publishers are anticipating more than 30% subscription growth for 2020, and 28% of that are expecting 50% growth or more, according to polls conducted during the Digital Media Europe 2020 event.
“Digital reader revenue … has quickly become many publishers’ top priority after watching much of their advertising revenue take a plunge during the pandemic.”
In the last year, Dagbladet has experienced strong growth in commentary journalism. To ensure that traditional media is able to contribute to the public discourse, Norwegian daily Dagbladet keeps some of the commentary in front of paywall – and receives a traffic boost.
“Our commentary material is often made available outside the paywall; occasionally, these are our most-read articles.”
German magazine Der Spiegel’s experience suggests that freebies are actually less effective, because paid trial subscribers overall tend to value the content more and are more likely to keep their subscriptions.
“Spiegel+ is a flat-rate platform for all premium content on the website, as well as for access to Spiegel’s digital magazine. It counts some 170,00 paying subscribers. Stories on main topics are generally offered for free, while analytical articles and interviews are behind the paywall.”
Publishers who are thinking about their long-term future should forget completely about advertising that creates “a product that is borderline hostile to their users" and instead focus on reader revenue, writes Dominic Young in Press Gazette.
“With the consumer in mind, and no allegiances to advertising and the complex rules and incentives it creates, the way you shape your product will be radically recalibrated.”
Indian journalism has a problem with credibility, misinformation and fake news, but a subscription-based model might be the remedy for the ailing industry, writes Abhishek Pandey.
“Readers only have to pay for the news articles that are of their interest. This will increase competition among all media houses in producing quality news with a deeper analysis of the situation before it can be presented in front of the audience.”
Free readers and subscribers are two very different groups with different needs, notes John Hiner, editor at Michigan Live. And by looking at what the loyal subscribers value, the local news outlet has been able to justify putting more resources behind their public interest reporting.
“We’ve come a long way as an industry in the past few years. In the eyeballs/advertisers online model, a story that garnered 1 million page views looked more valuable than one that was read 10,000 times.”