The number of new subscriptions to The Telegraph in London on any given day has grown 300 per cent since the newspaper reserved 20 per cent of its content to subscribers only last November.
The national newspaper, which dropped its three-year-old metered access model in favour of its new tiered model, has also grown the number of logged-in visitors by 400 per cent in the same time period.
The Telegraph gets 20 million monthly visitors, according to comScore.
Under the Telegraph Premium model, editors choose the 20 per cent of content that will be for subscribers only. The rest of the site remains free, including all video.
Editors have full ownership of what content is commissioned for Premium and what is made available for open access. Those decisions are made on a daily basis, often using audience data. “They make those decisions on the fly based on what news is happening, and the data feedback loop is so important for that,” said The Telegraph’s chief customer officer, Robert Bridge.
According to Mr Bridge, a big part the success of the model has been the editorial involvement.
“Getting editorial buy-in sounds easy but subscriptions were often running in a very separate way to the editorial teams before last November,” Mr Bridge, told Digiday.
The Telegraph also has beefed up its marketing team to capitalise on promoting subscriptions on the cusp of breaking news.
Time Inc on the block
Time Inc, the publisher of Time, People and Sports Illustrated magazines, has requested formal bids from potential acquirers by next week.
The New York Times reports that five parties, including Meredith Corporation and a group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. have indicated interest in buying Time Inc in its entirety. At least one of the other suitors is said to be a public company.
Time Inc’s board has asked potential suitors to enter formal bids or refresh previously submitted informal bids by next week, but there is no firm deadline, and Time Inc’s board could consider bids submitted after that.
Danish site embraces membership model
Danish news site Zetland has developed an innovative way to drive subscriptions.
Zetland was launched by four journalists in 2012, offering subscribers, or members, a single story a month via email. The site has continued to grow following a relaunch in March last year and currently has about 7000 members, with a quarter on trial, non-paying, memberships.
For only 99 Danish Kroner (or about $18 AUD) per month, users have ad-free access to all of Zetland’s content and discounted tickets to company-run events, none of which can be accessed without membership.
The subscription factor is one of the considerations of Zetland’s editorial direction. In an interview with WAN-IFRA, editor-in-chief Lea Korsgaard explained that the company’s goal was to reinvent quality journalism.
“We don’t publish a story unless we can justify that people are in fact paying money for it,” she said. “We always look upon what we do – and why we do it – from the member’s perspective.”
Zetland’s subscription model differs from the traditional format adopted by many news organisations, offering a “share” subscription to household members. It also introduced a student discount of 50 per cent to encourage more young people to join.
Google’s Digital News Initiative provided 250,000 euros (about $346,000AUD) to the company, which plans to use it to further develop a commenting section to encourage debate and idea sharing rather than bursts of opinion seen on other sites.