It's the early adopters - notably the New York Times, Murdoch sites in three continents, and a daily in Minneapolis - that are the grinners in a new survey of the world's most popular subscription news websites.
A new 'league table' compiled by UK Press Gazette's William Turvill ranks what it calls the '100k Club' of paid English language websites.
Aggregated totals including the national Australian, and metro dailies the Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and Courier Mail, and its news.com.au site - as well as the digital mastheads of print newspapers closed this year - put News Corp Australia in ninth place worldwide with 685,000. The Murdoch unit does not break down digital subscribers by title.
Turvill lists two dozen English-language news publishers and publications which have collected 100,000 or more digital-only subscriptions, including the Guardian's 548,000 "recurring contributors". It says prices vary from US$1.99 a month for National Geographic to GBP£75 a month for Financial News, a specialist title from News Corp-owned Dow Jones.
Press Gazette says it has confirmed that The Guardian has more than a million paying subscribers and regular contributors "following a surge of interest and support over the past year". This is supported by large US and Australian operations, with 352,000 subscriptions to its paid-for apps and tablet editions thanks to 60 per cent year-on-year growth. This is in addition to the 548,000 recurring contributors.
The league table confirms a substantial surge in subscribers globally during this COVID-19 year: "In all, Press Gazette's calculations suggest that if all subscriptions were paid at full rate, they would be worth around US$5.7 billion a year to the publishers," he says.
Top of the heap is of course, the New York Times, with 6.1 million paying online readers, worth an estimated US$1.34 billion and partially boosted by the "Trump bump". Turvill says former chief executive Mark Thompson oversaw a tenfold increase in online subscriptions during his eight-year tenure.
Others in the top ten are the Washington Post - owned by Amazon's billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos - at 3 million, the Wall Street Journal (2.4 million worth US$1.1 billion), USA Today publisher Gannett (1 million including UK mastheads), and The Athletic, which announced it had passed one million in September.
Elsewhere, News Corp's global tally is boosted by Barron's (458,000), UK "heavies" The Times and Sunday Times (337,000) which have had a paywall for ten years, and what Press Gazette calls "Dow Jones other" (the Financial News, Private Equity News and MarketWatch) in at number 24 with 102,000.
Other US publishing groups also make the grade: Tribune Publishing at 427,000 - including the Chicago Tribune's more than 100,000 - McClatchy with 299,000, the independently-owned Los Angeles Times at 257,000 plus paying readers from Apple News+, Bloomberg Media at 250,000, Boston Globe (223,000), and magazine-style titles such as The Economist, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and Wired.
Deserving a mention is the Minneapolis Star Tribune at 23 with 102,000, the fruits of a long slog to win paid subscribers starting in 2011 when it launched its first paywall.
Read the full Press Gazette report and tables here.
Pictured: Subscription offers from the New York Times (top), and the Minneapolis Star Tribune
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