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Readers not willing to pay full price for news

Young readers are willing to pay up to €6 for a monthly digital news subscription – 50% less than the average price (€14.09) across countries, according to a survey by Elizabeth Benítez, Event and Marketing Manager at WAN-IFRA. 355 participants between 18 and 34 years old from Europe, the United States and Mexico about their digital news preferences.

An unwillingness to pay for specialised content was mainly observed among participants. Perhaps it could be explained by a pronounced mentality that digital journalistic content should be free, the survey shows.

”Despite this fact, surprisingly, the type of content that participants would be most willing to pay for is “Science and Technology”; followed by “Business and Economy.” A lower rating is observed for “Crime and public safety” and “National politics or government.”

23.4% of participants are ready to pay for a subscription vs. 27.9% that do not think they will pay for news. The rest of the sample had a neutral opinion. They would consider paying for this type of subscription perhaps at some point, for example, when their income level increases and pricing becomes less of an issue.

On average, they would be willing to pay €6 monthly, which is less than 50% of the average news digital subscription price across countries. According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, €14.09 is the average monthly subscription price across six European countries and the United States.

Hence, finding the right pricing and model is crucial for news organisations, as digital reader revenue is becoming a primary financial source, and younger users will become their main customers in the next years, the survey says.

”This suggests that a lower subscription price has a positive effect to increase the young readers’ customer base and that they are excellent targets for premium offerings, such as access to more advanced visualisations, better search functions, or early access to content. Additionally, students’ offers, heavily discounted rates, or short cancellation periods, are a great option to motivate young readers with a strong willingness to pay and turn them into loyal ones.”

In conclusion, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no magic formula to create a business model. Nevertheless, adopting best practices or low-cost changes could maximise the value proposition, drive audience engagement and conversion rates. Additionally, regardless of reader preferences, data and technology remain the basis of digital subscription success.

The study shows that people’s willingness to pay for digital news subscriptions is correlated with their beliefs about news value. People often use price as an indicator of product quality. They may think, “the higher the price, the higher the quality.”

Equally, if people perceive that a product or service is of higher quality than another product or service, they naturally expect to pay a higher price for it. Furthermore, while content is available for free, readers may be willing to pay for the same information if the quality is better.


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