Give more to get more – could this be the key to growing readerships and boosting revenue for publishers?
If the New York Times numbers for their first quarter is any indication, then the answer is yes. The Times reports an increase in subscription revenue that is “outpacing that of ads.” So, could stand alone subscriptions to niche content be the future of digital subscriptions?
Offering smaller subscriptions in addition to an entire newspaper may be the best way to keep up with evolving technology and reader preferences.
Maybe Old Dad Was on to Something
In the past, dads would ask for the sports section, business section or other specific part of the newspaper. He was able to separate what he wanted to read, but he had to pay for the entire paper.
What if he had the choice of buying one particular section for a smaller price? Of course, with the print addition, this was not feasible, but it is possible today with digital content.
The ability to only pay for what you want sounds like a good idea, and if sports enthusiasts of the past had the choice of finding only the sports section on their steps in the morning, and paying less, would that have led to more revenue and subscribers for the paper? Maybe.
Technology Changes Everything
Apps are popular as more consumer buy and use smartphones and tablets. These small devices do it all, while allowing users to essentially carry an unlimited amount of information right in their pockets or purses.
A recent study conducted by the Online Publishers Association found that 72 percent of app users have paid to download a particular app. The app downloads included payment for digital subscriptions and single issues of content.
With apps becoming more popular, offering a certain section of the digital paper, like opinions or sports, may attract those who are interested in having easy access to news or stories in that particular niche.
More Choices: Good or Bad?
The freedom of choice is the basis for all markets. Consumers like to have choices – choices in content and pricing. Offering readers full access to print and digital publications or particular sections gives them the opportunity to explore these options.
Some may argue that too many choices are overwhelming to consumers, making it too difficult for them to decide what to buy. However, if a reader knows he or she likes sports, fashion or politics, and a newspaper offers easy access to it for a small fee, the choice may become easy.
At this point, there is not enough information to determine if offering standalone subscriptions for a lower price is the wave of the future for growing digital newspaper revenue and readership. However, businesses must be brave and explore new territory to be successful, especially in a world of evolving technology.