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News launches app-only subscription model

News Corp Australia has introduced a new mobile app-only subscription tier to several metropolitan mastheads to further drive digital subscriptions and mobile consumption.

The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Courier-Mail and The Advertiser in Adelaide will be the first four titles to receive the new offer, which is focused on engaging the transient reader.

“It’s important that we have a really strong, stand-alone mobile proposition,” said News Corp general manager, customer marketing Brendan Collogan.

“The product is designed for our readers that consume news on the go, who consume news on their mobile device. That’s why we felt it was prudent to introduce a product to specifically cater for those needs.”

Mr Collogan said that the tier was not targeted toward a particular age demographic, but admitted it did skew towards younger, tech savvy users.

News reimagined launched in August to better align News' ad products and improve customer experience.
News reimagined launched in August to better align News’ products and improve customer experience.

The metropolitan apps were revamped earlier this year as part of a larger redesign of News Corp Australia’s digital products – improving upon and better aligning users’ web, tablet, mobile and app experience.

The new app includes features such as news feed personalisation, news alerts and notifications, access to live news updates, live sport scores, videos and interactive daily crosswords.

The mobile subscription tier launched below the line a few weeks ago after extensive research. Following the official launch on Tuesday, Mr Collogan said that the interest generated had been significant.

News Corp Australia’s chief digital officer, Nicole Sheffield, said: “Strong investment in our digital products, to enhance the customer value proposition and extend our audiences, is a clear strategic focus.

“We see an increasing number of people using apps, as the preferred channel for real-time news access on their devices. And with increasing audience numbers, we expect the app to be an attractive medium for advertisers.”

The product is expected to be rolled out across other regional titles.

One of the biggest concerns for the publisher was that current subscribers may scale back their subscription from higher tiers, therefore lessening revenues.

“We needed to ensure that not too much of our full digital customers’ sales flow went into what is a lighter product and we also needed to ensure that our existing customers were not transitioning down,” Mr Collogan said.

Although News was unable to give specific numbers at this stage, the company said new clients far exceeded the small number of existing subscribers that signed-up.

The new app-only subscription service costs users $16 per month, with a reduced first month cost of $8. News currently offers three other metropolitan masthead packages, costing $24 per month for full digital access or full digital access plus the weekend papers. The most expensive tier includes full digital access and seven-day paper delivery for $48 per month.

News Corp decided upon a mobile only subscription rather than micropayments due to the reduced risk.

Publishers around the world are trialling micropayments for titles, which include a small fee for each article viewed. Mr Collogan said that trialling this monetisation model would likely negatively impact its current subscription products.

“I think that more significantly poses a risk to the incumbent revenue streams and something like that would have to be heavily, heavily tested,” he said.

“I suspect the cannibalisation of product such as that to your existing portfolio if launched without the right amount of research could be pretty devastating.”

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