Reports Media & Marketing

Paid News Digital Subscriptions Bubble or Breakthrough?

Report by Zach Fuller
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The 20,000 Foot View:  Still feeling imbued with the often cited ‘Trump bump’, paid news media subscriptions continued their healthy growth trajectory throughout 2017 and into the first quarter of 2018. The market, excepting China and India, grew largely in symmetry with other digital behaviours, as premium news brands continued to make their case as a credible alternative to the clickbait-centric news feeds of social media. However, much like the growing pains of the traditional formats in video and music, news’s older print user base means subscription growth will not be linear. This has been exemplified by the decline in growth rates of major titles since 2017, the shift from a fractured market to a longer tail, fewer dominant titles and the problem in converting an older user base to paid subscriptions. Certain titles such as the Washington Post are also artificially experiencing a boom due to the influence of bundle deals, resulting in the growth of paid subscriptions.

Key Findings

  • Premium news            approximately            million paid digital-only subscribers            2017
  • Premium subscribers            total            million,            2018
  • The most            premium news service is the            Post, growing by            in 2017,            in part to the bundling            of Amazon Prime
  •            of consumers subscribed to multiple paid content services across online video, music and news in 2017
  • The number            paid premium news subscribers grew            2017
  •            of premium paid digital subscribers only joined in the prior            months; for comparison,            of Spotify’s subscribers joined in the prior            months

Companies and brands mentioned in this report: Alphabet, Axel Springer, Bild, The Economist, Facebook, Financial Times, Google, The Guardian, Nikkei, Le Monde, The New York Times,, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph, USA Today, Die Welt

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