Thursday, September 26, 2013

How many people really pay for digital news?

Newsosaur (Ken Doctor) reporting:
Now that roughly a third of the nation’s newspapers are charging for access to their web and mobile content, the early evidence suggests that digital audiences aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about paying for news as publishers are about charging for it.

Although digital-only subscribers make up 37.6% of the total circulation of the Wall Street Journal and 34.4% of the total readership of the New York Times, the number of digital-only subscribers at Gannett, the largest publisher of general-interest newspapers in the land, is 2.2% of its average aggregate weekday circulation of 3 million subscribers.  

Notwithstanding the relative productivity of their paywalls, the paid penetration at the Journal and the Times pales in comparison to the success that Netflix, Spotify, Major League Baseball and other ventures have had in selling entertainment-oriented digital content. As illustrated in the table below, Netflix, the most popular digital pay service of our time, has 40 times more monthly subscribers than the New York Times.  

The disparity in the demand for news and entertainment subscriptions suggests that the market for digital news may be less robust than newspaper publishers want it to be. But there is no doubt that publishers are counting heavily on it. ...

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