Digital newspaper subscriptions are poised to become cheaper this year, due to companies slashing their fees. The average price for a digital newspaper subscription is $2.31 per week, according to a new report from the American Press Institute, or about $10 per month or $120 per year. That’s actually down slightly from a 2016 API report that pegged the average weekly price of a digital newspaper subscription at $3.11 per week.
Among the key findings are:
- The results of this study update previous studies that estimated lower optimal prices for digital news. The median weekly price of $2.31 from this study was 83% higher (cost $1.05 more per week) than what a 2012 report published by the Reynolds Journalism Institute estimated as an optimal price. It is also 221% higher (cost $1.59 more per week) than what survey respondents were willing to pay on average, as noted in that same report. This is an indicator of the shift toward digital products, including that news organizations are placing a higher value on revenue from digital subscriptions.
- Market size and circulation did not correlate with subscription price in any statistically significant, generalizable way. Ownership, however, did show a correlation with price for some media companies, as prices were standardized across some companies’ media properties.
- In the survey, circulation executives said market testing and ownership mandates were the most important considerations when setting price, followed by industry norms, then competitor prices.
- Discounted trial subscriptions result in higher conversion rates than do free trial subscriptions, if for no other reason than discounted trials require some sort of payment information entry. Our results showed in a side-by-side comparison that at the news organizations surveyed, free trials resulted in a conversion rate of less than 25%, while discounted trials resulted in conversion rates of at least 26% (though the majority was at least 76%
A single newspaper subscription pales in comparison to other services that cost the same amount of money. Hulu, Netflix or Spotify all cost around $9 per month and intrinsically offer more value. I think newspapers should offer benefits just for paying subscribers, such as: commenting access, fewer advertisements, improved browsing experiences, subscription sharing, monthly e-cookbooks, access to other statewide digital editions and rewards programs. Additional “insider-only” perks should include newsroom tours, movie screenings and giveaways.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.