The most popular entry tool to gain media subscribers is to slash the current price for a period of time, but even that initial reduced rate is under downward pressure from the market. That’s what can be deduced from the fact that the cost has fallen by 43% on average among the top 100 media outlets in the US, according to a study by market intelligence firm Toolkit. The figure has fallen from $0.076 per day in mid-June 2022 to an estimated $0.043 per day in the current month.
That drop is much smaller if only the 10 largest newspapers in the country are taken into account. The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Independent, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Dallar Morning News and Mlive.com have on average cut the introductory price by 16%. That’s down to $0.062 per day from $0.074 a year earlier.
However, if you look at the top 10 media outlets in the country (not just newspapers) the resulting figure is a 26% increase. The entry of Insider, Bloomberg, The Daily Beast and Newsweek into that group instead of the less relevant newspapers in the previous list turns the average figure around in promotional rates thanks in part to a more targeted audience for economic content. The result is totally different if you take the 10 media with the smallest audience of the group, which adjusted the figure downwards by as much as 19.5%. All of them are local, which again points to the difficulties for these local titles to survive in this context.
In any case, Toolkit notes in its study that introductory prices are very changeable depending on aspects such as the time of day or year, the location or what the medium can infer from the device from which the user accesses it. But the selection of 100 media traces a generalised trend that is clearly downward due to macroeconomic difficulties, increasing competition for readers’ attention or the relative immaturity of digital subscription businesses for some media.
The decline is much smaller if you take the 10 most important newspapers in the country and it becomes a growth if companies such as Bloomberg or Insider are included in the selection.
All of them are competing for a market that the latest Reuters Institute report puts at 21% of US citizens, who are those who responded in the latest edition of the Digital News Report that have paid for a media subscription over the last year. Of these, 56% paid for two or more, although only 38% have been consistent in maintaining them. In this scenario, US media have been using strategies such as discounts for three months or more, up to the five months on average detected in the study.