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Subscription academy

European news media in GNI Subscription Academy

The importance of subscription revenue for news media has been stressed by the increasing competition for the advertising money as giants like Google, Amazon and Meta (earlier Facebook) take 80% to 90% of the total digital advertising revenue. International News Media Association (INMA) and and FT Strategies have launched a new edition of the Google News Initiative (GNI) Subscriptions Academy for Europe (earlier called Subscriptions Lab).

This third edition is an eight-month programme and has eight participating companies. INMA says the programme is designed to strengthen and accelerate growth of the subscription businesses and help publishers deliver customised plans such as optimising the sales funnel and developing new monetisation strategies.

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The 2022 programme attracted applicants from publishers in 22 European countries. The eight participants that have been selected are:

  • Handelszeitung (Ringier Axel Springer), Switzerland
  • Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (INFOR PL SA), Poland
  • The Irish Times (Irish Times DAC), Ireland
  • La Repubblica (GEDI SRL) Italy
  • Observador (Observador On Time), Portugal
  • Der Spiegel (Spiegel-Verlag) Germany
  • Hamburger Abendblatt (Funkemedien), Germany
  • Jutarnji list (Hanza Media), Croatia

“During the past three years of INMA’s Readers First Initiative, news media publishers who are INMA members, on average, doubled their subscription base. At the same time, some brands grew faster – the 25% best-performing brands grew their digital subscriber base 7.5 times and revenue 3.2 times faster than the bottom 50%”, says Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA.

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A report from the US Securities and Exchange Commission shows that newspapers in the US made money money from circulation than from advertising

“For more than 50 years, US newspapers had more annual revenue from advertising than from circulation (e.g., selling subscriptions or single issues). But with ad revenue in a long-term decline and circulation revenue holding steady, the two streams finally crossed in 2020”, the Pew Research Center said.

Reuters Institute’s 2021 Digital News Report says that its survey shows significant increases in payment for online news in a small number of richer Western countries, but the overall percentage of people paying for online news remains low. Across 20 countries where publishers have been pushing for more online payment, 17% have paid for any online news in the last year – up two percentage points. Norway continues to lead the way with 45% (+3) followed by Sweden (30%), the United States (21%), Finland (20%), the Netherlands (17%), and Switzerland (17%).

In most countries a large proportion of digital subscriptions go to just a few big national brands – reinforcing the winner takes most, the Reuter Institute survey says.

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