Solving the never-subscriber problem

What's New in Publishing 21 Jul 2021 07:39

The paywall boom is driving up “subscription fatigue”. Media need to address this user pain-point.

For years subscriptions were like a slow-moving train. Every now and then you would discover that a publication you occasionally visited is charging you to read its content. Then a COVID-induced decline in ads sped up adoption, tipping the scales. 

Nowadays, it feels like everyone is putting up paywalls (even USA Today, a publication aimed at casual readers, jumped on the train last week). We have come to expect that the articles our friends share on social media will be locked.

The good news is that readers’ willingness- to-pay has also been on the rise. According to the latest Reuters Digital News Report, across 20 countries surveyed, 17% of people are ready to pay for media content. That’s up by two percentage points compared to last year. 

But that growth isn’t nearly enough to keep up with the rising number of subscriptions on offer. Across the countries included in the DNR 2021, the median number of subscriptions held by those who pay for news was consistent – and the number was consistently “one”. 

The limits of the subscription model

Similarly, during our work at Fewcents, we have found that while some content that editor’s assess as premium fared poorly, while city news or sports, for instance, had great conversions.

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theNew York TimesTelegraphandGuardianUSA TodayDNR
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