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Subscription icebergs in a sea of free: The Media Roundup

The challenge of launching paid products in free markets

A fool and his money may be easily parted – but not necessarily as easily as publishers would like. New research from What If has demonstrated that 84.1% of consumers are unwilling to pay for newsletters, even if it is their chosen medium for news consumption.  Instead, nearly 4 in 5 would rather access ad-supported content for free than pay for premium, ad-free newsletter experiences.

That’s not necessarily the end of the world – that 15.9% of people who’ll pay still represents an awful lot of potential subscribers – but it does speak to the challenge that comes with monetising a medium that has traditionally been free to access.

That’s a challenge Apple is likely to face with its mooted paid-for podcast subscription service. Though there have been experiments with paid-for podcasts, or podcasts as part of larger subscription bundles, it’s vanishingly unlikely that many consumers will pay for an audio product in a vast sea of free alternatives. If this sounds familiar, it is. It’s the digital publishing challenge all over again.

Misinformation went down after Twitter banned Trump

In a shocking turn of events, that thing that everyone said would work turns out to have worked – years after it would have been useful. More proof that deplatforming works – and a handy precedent to cite next time the platforms defer responsibility.

How used subscriber-exclusive stories to drive digital subscriptions

Relevance pays. We’ve seen that the cost-cutting efforts from local publishers was ultimately self-defeating – and this case study from demonstrated that relevance is ultimately the biggest driver of subscriptions.

The ailing news media industry needs to do more than just survive

This, the first in a series from Styli Charalambous, examines the (many) issues facing the journalism industry. From endemic issues of expertise loss as jobs disappear to the need for new means of funding, it’s a great introduction to the walls we need to break this year and beyond.

This content originally appeared in The Media Roundup, a daily newsletter from Media Voices. Subscribe here: