Further insights on reader willingness to pay for online news

What's New in Publishing 11 Jan 2019 06:50

The funding crisis in journalism has dominated industry conversations over recent years, whether it be about paywall strategiesdiversifying revenues, or generating direct reader revenues.

With this in mind, we started our latest research in the “Reinventing Digital Editions” series, in which we surveyed 4,000 news consumers across Europe and the United States. Our findings were recently released in the report “Reinventing Digital Editions: Reader Insights‘, which includes reader personas developed through one-on-one interviews with 30 readers.

In this article we dive into the findings on reader willingness to pay for online news – you can download the full report for more research on other news reader behaviours, format preference, and news consumption trends.

Abundance of free content stops readers from paying

By far, the most common reason readers give for why they do not pay for digital news is because they can find plenty of free content already elsewhere (61.9% of respondents). We can clearly see that the abundance of free content online is the biggest blocker in successfully capturing digital reader revenues for many newspapers today.

The cost of paying for digital news and the ability to access the paid content in different ways (such as coming from social or by-passing the paywall using incognito mode) are also common reasons for not paying. A distrust in media accounts only for 6.8% of respondents globally — however this number spikes to 17.5% in the US and 12.5% in the UK.

Paywalls aren’t just important for acquisition, but also for retention

In our interviews with readers, we also found respondents appreciate the guarantee of digital always being ready for them early in the morning, as sometimes the print newspaper would arrive too late for their morning routine.

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Rachel Davis MerseyUnited StatesMedill School of JournalismEuropeNorthwestern University
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