In this issue, we look at when The Economist might start gating access to its podcasts, look at the turnaround in fortunes at HuffPo, reaffirm the value of regular readers, and ask when print becomes too niche for a magazine publisher.
Today’s roundup is brought to you by Chris.
Putting up an audio paywall is a difficult in a lot of ways. Not necessarily technical, although that is still an issue for many of the smaller podcasters out there. Instead the problems of discovery and value attribution can stall the conversation around audio paywalls before they even begin.
Happily for The Economist, with its 3 million podcast listeners per month, that isn’t a hassle that needs to be overcome. Instead, as its director of podcasts John Prideaux told Press Gazette, it is a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ some of its currently free stable of podcasts will go behind a paywall – despite already paying for themselves through advertising:
“But he also said he expected a move over the next decade toward paywalled podcasts, likening their current free availability to the news industry’s belated deployment of website paywalls.” So, without wanting to rehash the point that paywalls do not necessarily equal effective journalism, this is at least an indication of how seriously the title is taking its audio products’ potential.
Bittersweet news here as it’s been revealed by Axios that the Huffington Post is now profitable following its acquisition by BuzzFeed. That will be cold comfort to the journalists and staff that had to be laid off to get there – but it is evidence that rightsizing can get you back to a place from which to (hopefully) rebuild better.
A Medill study of data from a business weekly publication shows the value of regular readers over pageviews. It’s especially enlightening in the wake of the news about UK regional publishers’ push for pageviews over everything else, which… won’t end well.
Moving forward, print brands will be “smaller in circulation and much more luxury”, according to DDM. We’ve argued that for a few years now – though there is still room for a few widely circulated titles – but what’s interesting is where that acknowledgement fits into the wider publishing strategy around magazine content.
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