The Future of Paid Journalism: Millennials!

By Rune Werliin, AudienceProject

With print revenue crashing through the floor, newspaper companies are looking for new digital revenue streams. The good news is that the younger generations are showing an acceptance of the value of premium news.

For decades, traditional newspaper companies have been struggling to adapt to the digital reality – with fast dropping revenues as a result. However, new data opportunities and the resurface of online news subscription business models should create some long-awaited optimism for the publishers.

Current state of paid journalism

While nowhere near the penetration of the print newspapers of yesteryears, digital journalism is starting to get a foothold as paid content, and our study shows that there is a potential for growth – especially among the younger generations.

In Norway, online journalism has the biggest success with 27% paying and another 6% considering starting paying. That’s one third of the Norwegians. In UK on the other hand, we see the least interest in paying for online journalism.

Men more inclined to pay for online editorial content

Although there is a difference in the willingness to pay for online editorial content across the countries, there is a clear picture that men are more willing to pay. In average, around 60% more men than women are currently paying for online editorial content.

The picture is less obvious when looking at age groups. In Sweden and Norway, paying for online journalism is highly correlated with age with older people more likely to pay, while there is more interest among the young in the other countries.

The potential customers are young

The great news for the news industry is the potential among the young people. In the US, 18% of the 15-25 years old and 30% of the 26-35 years old are already paying for online journalism. And despite the huge success of social media platforms as sources of news, another 9% of the people between 15 and 25 years in the US consider to start paying for online journalism.

By targeting these younger generations with online news offerings suited for their specific interests, publishers can pave the way for new needed revenue streams.

ePapers preferred

When looking at the types of content that is being paid for, we see that ePapers and eMagazines together with regular website news are in top. Especially in Norway, ePapers and eMagazines are popular, where three quarters of those paying are paying for this type of content.

This embrace of the ePaper is also unfolded in Visiolink’s recently published report State of the ePaper.

Some of the highlights from the report include numbers showing that the ePaper penetration has increased from 12,5% in 2014 to 15,4% in 2017 (based on data from 171 newspapers across Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands and Sweden) and that the average time spent with ePapers is 25,5 minutes (based on survey answers from 6.284 respondents across Denmark, Finland, Germany and Norway) – a 10% increase compared to 2016.

Furthermore, the report shows that 80% of the ePaper users consider ePapers to be their primary news source or a very important news source, which corresponds very well with numbers from our study showing that online news sites are broadly considered to be the main source of news.

People willing to pay to avoid ads

Besides getting paid for content, our study also indicates that publishers might consider offering a subscription model that allows their users to pay to avoid ads on their websites.

When people are asked if they are willing to pay to get rid of ads on online news sites, a relatively large proportion say that they are. Especially in the US, where one fourth is positive about this.

As it is the case with the willingness to pay for online editorial content, we also see that it is mainly the men who are willing to pay to get rid of ads.

Get further insights

In the study below, you can learn more about news consumption in the US, UK and Nordics. Enjoy!

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