Local and entertainment subscribers lean to national papers

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Those who already buy entertainment on subscription are more likely to be bigger buyers of newsmedia, according to a study.

America's NewsMediaAlliance says research at Minnesota university's Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication its support and that of the local Star Tribune made the connection between news subscribers and those buying services such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify.

Researchers looked at willingness to pay and motivations for subscribing to news, entertainment media and sports content. Specifically, they wanted to know how newspaper subscription costs fit in to consumers' overall subscription budget. The survey was conducted with Minnesota residents between April 24 and June 4 this year, and received just under 500 responses, which were then weighted to reflect US census data for the state.

The average Minnesota household has about four digital media subscriptions, including 1.3 news subscriptions, with subscribers spending almost US$700 year, despite setting a budget of about US$600

Nearly all respondents paid for both news and entertainment - which is the major driver - but researchers found local news subscribers were more likely to subscribe to a national news outlet, with a third of Star Tribune subscribers also having a subscription to a national newspaper such as the New York Times or Washington Post (compared to seven per cent of non-subscribers of the Star Tribune).

The study found a trend toward an increasingly mobile audience when consumers engage with media subscriptions, with mobile use (58 per cent) surpassing print (54 per cent) and gaining on computer use (74 per cent).

While news media subscriptions tend to be driven more by print readers, this does not necessarily suggest that news media subscriptions will decline with the increase in mobile device use. "The continued growth of mobile for digital media consumption should neither surprise nor worry anyone," said Steve Yaeger, the Star Tribune's vice president and chief marketing officer. "People are still hungry for quality news irrespective of device.

"These data show that as long as news publishers are innovating and adapting to meet consumer needs and desires, subscribers will continue to seek out and subscribe to newspaper content."

Access to the full report is available to NMA members.

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