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Unveiling the road of digital newspaper subscription

Unveiling the road of digital newspaper subscription

These are some key trends and findings from the 2018 Global Digital Subscription Snapshot Index.

FIPP joined forces with paywall firm CeleraOne to create a document that highlights the complex and diverse approaches publishers are taking to drive digital subscription growth.

Digitization has been a difficult leap for traditional media, as different trends and methods loom continuously over old habits, it seemed newspapers and magazines were condemned to disappear.

However, this imminent transition has forced the industry to evolve and find approaches to make ends meet, and it looks like it has, at least for newspapers and their digital subscribers.

According to the first Global Digital Subscription Snapshot created by FIPP, The New York Times, submerged in an economic recession for the printing industry and in the devaluation of its brand, seems to have deciphered how to manage the reconversion to digital. In May 2018, it announced a yearly upturn of up to 25% in its online subscribers, or, around 139,000 new readers each year until closing its current online base in 2.8 million, becoming the new king of digital newspapers with more paid readers.

This shows that although some did not believe the future of traditional media was capable, the market has some hidden secrets and all it takes is figuring it out to stay on top of the game, one that flashes evolution and change.

A market that flashes evolution and change, but no instant recipe for success

Deloitee estimates the market is set to take a turn up.

The research company has said that by the end of 2018, news and magazine media will have more than 20 million digital-only subscribers, and despite the print industry is lacking and Google and Facebook are taking the majority of digital advertising growth, there are still many ways to achieve a successful media planning that will get people to pay for news.

The apparent success some companies are enjoying –which drives confidence in publishers– is not a case of luck, as there is no instant recipe for success in the industry, as some have come to learn at a very high cost. The New York Times launched their digital subscriptions in 2011, and it is only in the last few years that we are seeing the hyperbolic growth they have become renowned for. Just in January and February, according to Reuters, publisher’s shares jumped as much as 13.8 percent to $25.20, their highest since July 2007, underscoring the turnaround in its fortunes that had wavered as fewer people bought newspapers.

According to the index, success with paid content strategy are very much dependent on the market publishers are operating in, and in these markets, paid content is most developed, and consumers already show a willingness to do so. This includes the US, UK, Scandinavian markets and France.

Emerging and fledgeling markets

European countries such as Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy fall into the category of emerging markets for digital subscriptions, although the concept is still not yet fully entrenched among the population.

In Russia, Poland, Spain and Austria, Argentina and Brazil, amongst many others, the culture to pay for news is still very poorly entrenched.

Read more on the debate surrounding the future of the digital media industry.