Subscription Media: Mar 9, 2021

By  Recuro
Mar 9th 2021
Read time: 
3 minutes
Table of contents


1.Nearly half of paying digital subscribers don’t visit even once a month, according to new research - Local News Initiative

Nearly half of local news outlets’ digital subscribers are “zombie” readers who visit the website less than once a month, according to a data analysis in 45 markets.
It doesn’t cost publishers to serve these unengaged readers but unless they can be transformed into more avid readers, their expected lifetime value is far less.

“The 49% figure comes from both digital-and-print subscriptions and digital-only subscriptions at 45 news outlets of various sizes that have provided anonymized data to Spiegel for research purposes. When the digital-only subscribers were analyzed separately, the “zombie” subscription figure fell to 20%.”

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2. Tribune Publishing gained approximately 102,000 digital subscribers in 2020 - New York Times

Tribune Publishing, which owns The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and seven other metropolitan dailies, added substantially to its digital subscribers and digital revenue last year. Tribune gained approximately 102,000 digital subscribers in 2020, a 30.5 percent rise.

“[...] its overall subscription revenue fell $3.1 million even as revenue from digital subscriptions grew by $5.4 million.”

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3. The Washington Post amps up its app strategy to drive more subscribers - Adweek

The goal is to reduce subscriber churn and prepare for a cookie-less future through investing more resources into its mobile strategy team, with the aim of shepherding new users onto the app and improving the app experience for existing users.

“Taking casual users and making them loyal is something that apps can do really well. It’s a higher barrier to go and download something, so the trick is figuring out the right moments to introduce that.”

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4. Young readers are willing to pay – but finding the right pricing and model is crucial - What’s New in Publishing

Nearly a quarter of young readers are willing to pay for news, according to a new survey by WAN-IFRA. Engaging with them, however, comes down to fullfilling the four determinants influencing their willingness to pay: price, new engaging formats, value, and content.

“Although young readers are inclined to pay less for news (€6) compared to the average monthly subscription price (€14.09) across six European countries and the United States, the study found a correlation between price and news value.”

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1. The Subscription Economy has grown over 435% in 9 years - What’s New in Publishing

The subscription economy - in a broad sense - grew almost sixfold in the last 9 years, according to data from the subscription platform Zuora. At the same time, the willingness to pay for news and information is growing and publishers grew their subscription revenues by 16 percent globally in 2020.

“The average revenue per user rate for subscription businesses increased to 18% in Q4 2020 from 14% in Q4 2019.”

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2. Innovation in reader revenue: How to launch a successful membership model - TheFix

Community building can be a way to enhance media sustainability – but what further innovation should we expect from membership and subscription models, asks TheFix in a write up.

“[Ukrayinska Pravda] developed a unique membership model with different tiers: a basic one for supporters, one that provides tangible benefits from over 50 business partners, and a top-tier “editor’s club” for people who want to be more engaged with UP and social initiatives.”

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3. Is Substack the panacea local news is looking for? - Poynter

Local newsrooms have some new competition — their own best reporters defecting to Substack, the newsletter subscription service allowing writers to rely on a paid subscription model to earn money, writes Poynter in an analysis.

“The news business — and local news, in particular — is an industry practically begging to be disrupted. While national news outlets have largely found a new model that works, many local newspapers are trying everything to find something that might change their fates.”

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4. Inside the double-digit revenue growth in digital publishing subscriptions last year - The Wrap

The pandemic, protests and the U.S. presidential election fueled a boom in digital news subscriptions for newspapers and magazines, writes The Wrap, in an analysis.

“Despite the ongoing drumbeat of reported doom and gloom for the survival of publishing, a new report on the subscription economy says subscription revenue for digital news and information publications increased by 16% in 2020 even in the face of declining advertising revenues.”

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