Written by: Amala
In 2022 we’re threading uncertainties with a more optimistic approach. The reader revenue or subscriber revenue has been debated over for a while. Whether to bank on only subscribers or to have other channels pooling in money to keep media houses standing.
More publishers are seeking refuge in subscriber revenue or membership revenues according to Reuters Institute of Journalism. About 79% of businesses say that subscriber revenue will be one of their most important revenue priorities, even more than display and native advertising.
While there are hard paywall enthusiasts, there still is a hesitation as publishers insist on the need for diversification of revenue channels that will truly meet the expectations and expenses of all media efforts. On the positive side, about 59% of publishers surveyed by Reuters have confirmed that their overall revenues have increased over the past years with a boom in advertisement as well.
Publishers are seen pitching premium content. Selling exclusive content and experiences seem to be working in their favour. The subscriber only stories have helped publishers gain more subscribers as discussed in the WAN-IFRA report. Covering local and hyper local news stories such as - electricity outages, gas price hikes, affordability, lifestyle changes, growth and development in areas, local politics and more has encouraged more readers to seek subscriber only content. With further representation of the audience, publishers have been able to gain more readers and retain them.
Not only are payments safer and hassle free but they also allow smaller payments that don’t make readers wary of going through the process of transaction. It is difficult for netizens to commit to a single news outlet. Therefore giving them the space to discover and consume content from other platforms is important. Having smaller bundles and pay per article model can help the younger readers explore your content more freely. A paywall that isn’t flexible will be too restrictive for the digital savvy audience, instead of forcing subscription commitments it would be more beneficial to focus on nurturing connections with readers.
Diversifying channels is also gaining traction this year. It’s important to not be stuck in a single channel as you may attract audiences of the same background - digitally exclusive content should branch out to all channels to increase accessibility. Having audio content to support textual content, using multimedia to deliver experiences, having shorter social media friendly content formats can all help diversify content. Live video is booming. Short-form video is reaching millions of Gen-Z viewers on social platforms. TikTok now reaches 24% of those under-35s, with 7% using it for news (source : Reuters Institute of Journalism). This will help reach bigger audience groups that are active on different platforms.
BBC was one of the first platforms to run solely on the subscriber money they made. Reader revenue may look different to every publisher depending on your reach, audience and relevance. While any smart publisher will always have more than a few revenue streams, it’s natural to focus on your reader revenue. It brings more than money, it gives you data that you can use to build better appreciated content. Readers are looking for unique experiences on the web and are willing to pay for it. Ensure that you have the right tools and the knack for finding the content that would most benefit your audience.