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(Subscribe to) read all about it

December 5, 2019

Subscriptions have become a vital part of the magazine and newspaper industry. Many larger brands today would not exist without this revenue option. Why have subscriptions become such a key focus for these sectors and how do subscriptions drive revenue? To understand this, we need to explore the decline of print media, the rise of the internet and the evolution of how consumers digest content.

The death of print media

Print media has been dying a slow and painful death for years. There are a few reasons key reasons for this. The first is that the news is by nature cyclical. So, when TV came into play, this quickly changed the game. Suddenly, there was a new, more accessible way for consumers to get the news that they wanted. This was being beamed straight into their homes and the introduction of the television certainly caused a hit to the sale of newspapers.

Print media arguably survived the introduction of the TV because there was enough room on the market for both to co-exist in some form. As well as this, the rate at which people could receive the news was more or less the same. The TV news wasn’t a 24-hour service immediately. There weren’t channels online dedicated to providing news stories nonstop. 

But this changed with the internet. The internet caused the destruction of the print industry to accelerate rapidly due to the concept of accessibility. The way that consumers digested the news shifted radically. Suddenly, they were able to access the news on their schedule with an internet search. Websites were set up which were updated regularly throughout the day. 

Technology only furthered this because soon there were devices that consumers could use to access the news regardless of where they were. Speeds are constantly increasing and these devices are becoming a more integral part of our daily lives. Searching online used to be a rare add on when purchasing a phone, now it’s a necessity. We receive news updates to our phone, we can evem simple swip left to see the latest news stories. 

That’s not even mentioning social media. The journalism profession has also taken a hit because consumer generated news has become more popular as well. Why buy a newspaper when Steve_43 has a feed specifically for updates on a particular subsection of the news every ten minutes?

These advances in technology and changes in the forms of content consumption have impacted magazines as well. Consumers no longer see the need to buy magazines, particularly when they can gain a lot of the information they want online. There’s no need to buy a magazine to find out the latest celebrity gossip when there are blogs and websites set up filled with this information.

Crucially those blogs and sites are free. Magazines and newspapers were costing money that consumers no longer felt the need to pay for. Magazines and newspapers were forced to act quickly and respond to a changing market or become relics of the past. This is where subscriptions became essential.

Subscription in the past

Subscriptions in the news and magazine industry aren’t a new concept. It’s always been possible to subscribe to a Newspaper or have a favorite magazine delivered straight to your door on a monthly or seasonal schedule. This was popular because it ensured that users were able to access the content they wanted and the subscription fee made the cost more manageable and predictable.

To survive the advances of technology and the new accessibility of content, magazines, and newspapers needed to provide the same type of solution with a digital spin. This is exactly what has occurred. 

Today, you can subscribe to digital forms of newspapers and magazines. By doing this, consumers can access the information they want in a new format. However, that still doesn’t solve the issue of the information being accessible elsewhere. Why pay for a subscription if it’s possible to gain the same information or story from another source that is free?

Newspapers and magazines have solved this problem too and subscriptions come in a variety of different forms. Some businesses provide a subscription to gain content that is ad-free. Ads have become a key part of online interactions. It has reached the point where even popular sites are flooded with ads and this does impact the user experience. So, a subscription that promises ad-free environments are providing value to users.

Subscriptions can also provide content that is not accessible without this form of payment. Here content is locked behind paywalls and subscription options. In some cases, to access the content, users only need to provide a point of contact. In other cases, they might be required to pay a small fee.

It has been necessary for companies to assess and research exactly how much consumers are willing to pay to access what is considered to be premium content. That’s another key variable that has ensured these businesses have been able to benefit from subscriptions. They have marketed subscriptions as providing users with the opportunity to access content of a higher quality.

It’s debatable whether all magazine and newspaper subscriptions provide a higher level of quality content than a typical blog or free website. However, businesses that have survived or thrived with digital subscriptions have certainly convinced their audience this is the case.

Many bigger brands have also invested in custom apps and responsive websites to ensure that they are also providing the absolute best experience possible. Some also use advanced software to provide a personalized experience for users. Users are presented with the content that they will be most interested in based on their reading habits.

With payment walls, ad-free experiences, and private access content, the magazine and journalism industry has been able to survive a massive shakeup caused by new technology and the growth of the internet. While print media does still exist in these sectors, it’s true to say that it’s nowhere near as significant for business revenues as it used to be. Companies now rely on subscriptions to pay the bills.



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