2022-08-03 Robert Shehadeh

How Subscription Revenue Is Now More Important Than Ads For Most Publishers

Learn how digital subscription revenue is overtaking print subscriptions and advertising in this blog post.

The rise of digital subscriptions took the world by storm as people drastically increased their screen usage due to the pandemic lockdowns. Since physical newspapers were hard for readers to get their hands on, many loyal customers evolved to seek out their preferred digital subscriptions – in turn bringing subscription revenue to the forefront for publishers around the world.


Subscription Revenue is Overtaking Print and Ads

Take The New York Times: they hit 5.7 million digital-only subscriptions in 2020 (Tracy, 2020) and, for the first time, saw digital revenue exceed print revenue. And with the number of users in the US digital newspaper and magazine segment expected to rise to 177.7 million users by 2027 (Statista, 2022), digital subscriptions will continue to expand their scope.

Coincidingly, the rise in digital subscriptions has come at the perfect time to buy print subscriptions and advertising. When The New York Times brought in $185.5 million in digital subscription revenue for the second quarter of 2020, their print revenue came in just under $176 million for the second quarter of 2020. (Tracy, 2020)

That trend may not be going away as the pandemic subsides. Now, 76% of publishers consider subscriptions to be their most important revenue stream — ahead of digital advertising, native advertising, events, e-commerce, and more.

The Reuters report cites the New York Times digital subscription surge along with similar results from other publishers as evidence that increasing subscription revenue is key to success in what many are calling “The New Normal.” (Newman, 2021)


Meeting the Requirements of Today’s Readers

Publishers looking to fully capitalize on this subscription surge must utilize a platform with the unique ability to manage both print and digital subscribers under the same customer service portal.

A web-based portal that offers customer service representatives a single view of the customer, across both print and digital, has many intrinsic benefits, such as the ability for users to jump across different subscription types, upgrades, downgrades, go from print only to digital only, into bundles, etc.

These day-to-day workflow necessities aren’t practical and technically possible to manage when you have multiple providers managing separate digital and print components. Media digitalization trends applied to all publishers, and those who were not positioned to engage subscribers, especially digital subscribers, suffered.

Ready to learn more? Check out our white paper, Balancing Print and Digital: A Publisher’s Guide for Optimizing the Content Distribution Mix.