With newspaper and magazine circulation at an all time low in the United States, publishers are changing their priorities by focusing on the possibilities of the internet for accessing content. Charging for content is one way for these publishers to ensure that their businesses remain profitable. In 2015, digital e-Paper publishing revenue stood at 2.44 billion U.S. dollars and is forecast to more than double by 2021. Similarly, e-Magazine revenue is projected to increase more than threefold in the same timeframe, exceeding 3 billion U.S. dollars by 2021.
Arguably, the main reason for the adoption of paywalls by newspaper and magazine companies online is to generate extra revenue. As a result, the circulation revenue of digital newspapers has increased dramatically in recent years, highlighting the constant move from traditional media to digital media. One of the main ways to generate this income is through digital subscriptions, which encourage the consumer to buy access to certain media websites. The number of newspapers offering a digital subscription in the United States has increased dramatically from six in 2010 to 77 in 2015. These subscriptions vary in type from the freemium model to the meter model, the latter being the most popular among newspapers with a circulation of over 50,000. Newspapers employing the meter model also tended to be the cheapest, with those employing this model charging an average of 2.97 U.S. dollars. In contrast, those using a hard model charged 4.43 U.S. dollars on average.
In the United States, when it comes to incentives, strategies, or just content worthy of people’s hard earned cash, the New York Times Company is leading the way by number of paid subscribers for digital online products. As of the first quarter of 2017, they had 1.61 million paid subscribers. Overall, the company generated over 800 million U.S. dollars of revenue through circulation and 580 million U.S. dollars in advertising in 2016.
Across the globe, these paid content incentives appear to have worked in some countries more than others. As of February 2016, of the consumers who were asked, "Have you paid for online news content in the last year?", Italian consumers had the largest share worldwide with 16 percent of respondents answering yes. The United States was ranked sixth with nine percent of consumers, whilst the United Kingdom trailed behind with only seven percent of consumers.
However, despite this growing digital trend, over half of the newspaper media audience still consumes print only newspapers. In contrast, only five percent and six percent of consumers use web only and mobile only respectively. This suggests that there is still some time before digital newspapers and online paid content catch up with traditional forms of print media.
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