News Corp regionals go ‘freemium’

News Corp regionals go ‘freemium’News Corp Australia's head of metro and regional publishing, Damian Eales.

News Corp Australia will introduce the freemium digital subscription model to all its daily regional paid titles in October and launch new digital subscription packages.

The move will be informed by News’ experience with various content-gating models trialed at its metro mastheads and will affect the NT News, Geelong Advertiser, Townsville Bulletin, Cairns Post, Gold Coast Bulletin and Hobart’s Mercury.

Head of metro and regional publishing Damian Eales said the freemium model had proven more successful than the metered model, with freemium papers generating twice the number of premium content subscriptions than titles with a metered model.

“We are developing a real confidence in determining which pieces of content customers are willing to pay for and which pieces of content customers aren’t willing to pay for but offer an enormous benefit from an advertiser perspective,” Mr Eales said.

The freemium rollout was pre-empted by the systematic launch of new digital print replica editions across the regionals.

The new digital subscription packages will offer a variety of bundling options across print, digital and News’ metro titles – packages similar to those pioneered in the regions by APN’s Australian Regional Media newspapers last year.

Just this week, The Australian added free access to The Wall Street Journal as part of its subscriber member benefits.

Mr Eales said the majority of News’ customers still preferred to bundle digital access with print.

“In fact, in our metro business the highest growth package is weekend newspapers and digital access for seven days a week. We expect that to be the same in our regional businesses,” Mr Eales said.

Mr Eales said News was growing its digital subscription base as its print circulation decline slowed – almost halving in the past two years.

“We think (circulation decline) will almost halve again in the year ahead and combined with our growing digital subscription base, we now have more customers paying more money for more content than ever before.”

“It’s a very positive sign, where many have said that our industry has lost relevance with customers, with readers. It’s patently false based the fact that our total paid audience is actually in growth. Our consumer revenue is in growth and we see that continuing into the future.”

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