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The narrow spread of subscription success: The Media Roundup

USA Today is getting a paywall. Who’s the audience for it?

In this week’s episode of the podcast Chris Duncan corrects his much-shared but misattributed statement that only ten English-language global newsbrands can sustain themselves on the limited amount of subscription revenue. Despite that it’s undeniably true that some publishers won’t be able to survive on digital subscription revenue alone. Either their content is too similar to free alternatives or their sales tactics fail to connect with a demographic that isn’t primed to pay.

So for Nieman Lab Joshua Benton asks who USA Today’s new paywall is designed to appeal to: “Without that local tie-in, and with a higher-than-expected price, I’m honestly not sure who the audience for a USA Today digital subscription is. That’s especially true if, as it seems, an awful lot of content will still be in front of the paywall.”

So maybe there isn’t a hard ceiling on the number of global newsbrands that can successfully deploy paywalls. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a feeding frenzy on an unlimited amount of subscribers’ money. USA Today might well prove that subscription fatigue – or early mover’s advantage – is now fully in play for newspapers.

Gannett invests to boost product-review site, hoping to rival New York Times’s Wirecutter

And speaking of Gannett, affiliate and e-commerce revenue remain high on publishers’ priority list, especially since it provides them with a secure and steady source of ad revenue amid cookie confusion and spending freezes. Now Gannett wants a bigger slice of the pie – and it’s going after one of the biggest players in the market.

‘A real slog’: How one New Zealand media company is trying to make trust pay

There’s a few important takeaways from this writeup of Stuff’s tricky past few years. One is that ‘trust’ – always a woolly and nebulous term – can drain away for no apparent reason. The other is that other media companies are ahead of the curve, making employees shareholders in their shared future.

Evening Standard posts £17m loss but says digital transformation ‘already showing positive results’

Eesh. Revenues in the second half of the financial year just 40% of the previous year as lockdown prevented the freesheet from reaching its target audience of commuters. It does, however, expect to grow its digital revenues by more than 20% year-on-year, which seems… very achievable.

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