Subscription Media: Sep 29, 2020

By  Recuro
Sep 28th 2020
Read time: 
4 minutes
Table of contents


1. Audio articles helped Danish 'slow journalism' outlet Zetland gain 2,000 new members –

The Danish publisher Zetland publishes only two or three pieces a day, each with its own audio version. This approach has helped Zetland reach 17,000 paying members and breaking even.

“Four in five features by the Danish slow journalism outlet are consumed as reporter-narrated audio stories that 'have that campfire feel to them' rather than as written content, fuelling the success of its membership programme.”

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2. 'NPR-style' nudging led to a 30 % growth in paid subscriptions for a newsletter - Substack

Simon Owens, the author of a tech and media newsletter decided to try an 'NPR-style' pledge, i.e. explaining what goes on behind the scenes and what the money from the subscriptions are actually doing, to drive subscriptions. Nudging his followers in this way was a success: The jump in paid subscriptions was significant: 30%.

“It seems like my suspicions were correct that I had a bunch of potential subscribers waiting on the sidelines who just needed a little nudge.”

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3. As local news outlets shift to subscription, they wonder: What should Facebook’s role be? - Nieman Lab

For European local news publishers, Facebook often accounts for a significant amount of the traffic. The question then is, how can Facebook be used to increase subscription revenues? For U.K. based publisher Iliffe Media, for instance, the answer is micropayments for selected content.

“Just as Facebook as a company has shifted its focus from public posts to groups and private messaging, the newspapers have scaled back their reliance on the platform for achieving algorithmic reach and instead use it strategically to promote subscriptions, connect with targeted groups, and reach new audiences.”

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4. New York Times CEO says 100m will pay for online news by 2030 - Press Gazette

Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO of the New York Times, predicts that 100m people will have digital English-language news subscriptions in ten years’ time, and that NYT could have up to 24 % of that market, i.e. 24m subscribers.

“I think that probably divides into half of them [the additional subscribers] in the United States, half of them out around the rest of the world.”

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5. More than half of US adults plan to keep digital subscriptions they started in March - eMarketer

58 percent of Americans who subscribed to an online news service in March plan to keep it after the coronavirus pandemic ends while 34 percent plan to discontinue and 8 percent don't know, according to a study by eMarketer. For music services the retention rate is higher: 72 percent plan to keep their subscriptions.

“News outlets are also seeing success, as 58% of US adults cited that they will maintain their subscription post-pandemic. The New York Times gained 669,000 digital subscribers in Q2 2020—pushing digital revenues into the majority for the first time [...]”

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1. Fortune’s CEO: “Competing against Google, Apple and Amazon for online advertising dollars just didn’t make sense” - Zuora

Until this year, everything that the business magazine Fortune published online was free. Waiting so long to transform the business was a mistake, says Alan Murray, president and CEO of Fortune Media Group, in an interview with Zuora. He also expounds on the newly launched service Fortune Connect, which has an annual fee of $2,500 for members.

“Back in the Nineties, magazines made the same mistake that a lot of media companies made — they gave away all their content for free online. It was a horrible mistake, and they basically spent decades trying to reverse the negative consequences.”

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2. Study: Netflix and Spotify subscribers seem more likely to pay for online news - International Journal of Communication

A new study by two Oxford researchers, using comparative data sets from six countries, finds that Netflix and Spotify subscribers seem to be more likely than others to also pay for online news. The reason that is put forth is that the streaming service might lead to "process of market conditioning through the normalization of online news payment".

“Newspapers may benefit from the knowledge that there are links between the people who pay for online media and their potential subscriber base.”

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3. Study: Paid digital subscriptions is the only way to grow for publishers – Zuora

While the ad market for publishers is shrinking, subscription volume continues to grow. Therefore, “publishers who are not using digital subscriptions should start,” recommends the newly released annual Subscription Economy Index from the subscription billing platform Zuora, using data from 1,000 customers.

“Overall, subscription sign-ups are on the rise, and while the S&P 500 companies saw sales contract at an annualized rate of -10% in Q2, the Subscription Economy Index reveals that subscription businesses actually expanded at a rate of 12%.”

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2 million

was the target for digital registrations that Reach, the UK's biggest newspaper publisher, set in February. The actual number of subscribers is already 3,5m, and Reach reported a 13% year-on-year growth in digital revenues in the third quarter of 2020. Read more

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