Subscription Media: Nov 17, 2020

By  Recuro
Nov 17th 2020
Read time: 
3 minutes
Table of contents


1. WSJ’s internal report: Too much focus on traffic – too little on retaining subscribers – Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed has obtained an internal report from the Wall Street Journal, which among other things, discusses how the newspaper favors the print version and has problems retaining subscribers.

“‘Here’s the bottom line: if we want to grow to 5.5 million digital subscribers, and if we continue with churn, traffic and digital growth about where they are today — it will take us on the order of 22 years,’ the report reads.”

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2. Readly increases subscribers by 30 percent – Breakit

The Swedish digital magazine service Readly increases both sales and operating loss during its first quarter as a listed company. Compared with the same period last year, the number of subscribers increased by almost 30 percent to just under 340,000.

“Among our main markets, development in the UK was particularly strong, with increased sales by more than 50 percent and a strong trend in the acquisition of new subscribers.”

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3. Bloomberg has more than doubled its digital subscribers this year – Press Gazette

Bloomberg has more than doubled the number of subscribers to its news website this year (as distinct from its newswire Bloomberg terminal business), according to CEO Justin B Smith. The company now boasts 250,000 active subscriptions, 40% of which are outside of the United States.

“A lot of our subscription business is tied to news and information, which is tied to current events and what’s going on – so the election and the gyrations in the financial market globally. All of those factors have played into our renewed growth in the fall.”

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4. How a Covid-19 timeline drove 600 new subscriptions for the San Antonio Express-News – Better News

Local news outlet San Antonio Express-News decided to present the surge of information about Covid-19 in a way that’s easy for readers to understand and digest by creating a permanent timeline for all things related to the pandemic in San Antonio. So far, the timeline has driven more subscriptions by a large number, 600-plus, in 2020 than any other single story on their website.

“Keep the layout simple, start early and give the timeline a permanent spot on your homepage and newsletters, so that readers make reading it a habit.”

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5. Google News Initiative participants report significant increase in paid subscribers – Google

Since launching in 2018, Google News Initiative has helped publishers achieve an average increase of 59 % in new monthly digital subscribers and a reduction of churn by 19 %, according to a report.

“Prior to the lab we were swimming in a sea of data. The learnings from the Subscription Lab have given us clear direction and more importantly, have provided key benchmarks and given us insights into what should be measured.”

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1. News publishers dial up the marketing heat on their subscription products – Digiday

In recent months, American publishers have begun to market their premium services more to their own readers, for instance by reducing the number of articles that are open before the payment wall hits, Digiday writes.

“Recent research conducted by the paywall platform Piano found that, among its publisher customers, the median percentage of site visitors who were shown a subscription offer was nearly three times higher in September than it was in March.”

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2. Key indicators from FT Strategies’ North Star report: These publishers are seeing “the strongest performance in subscriptions” – What’s New in Publishing

Financial Times Strategy’s new report looks into the common challenges faced by publishers as they build subscription driven businesses, and how to overcome them. One finding is that publishers who demonstrate the strongest commitment to creating value for readers see the strongest performance in subscriptions

“Volume metrics, the cornerstone of advertising-based revenue streams, are still a hard currency for newsrooms, marketeers and senior leadership teams, but growing a subscription business requires a change in this approach.”

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3. New book: How publishers can seize opportunities in the pandemic – What’s New in Publishing

Lucy Kueng, Senior Research Associate at Reuters, has published a new book that looks into how publishers can transform in the aftermath of the pandemic. The growth in digital subscriptions that has taken place in many major newspapers is, for example, something that other publishers should study carefully, she writes.

“This is a reset moment. Organizations are unfrozen. People are expecting change. You have a cover. There will never be a better time to tackle deeper changes that need to happen.”

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