In October 2011 the executives at News Ltd announced that “the ten year free trial is over” and they were launching digital subscriptions for some of their publications beginning with The Australian.
Naturally, they were plenty of cynics prepared to predict the pay wall gambit would fail, and I certainly had my doubts. Its still only very early days and long term success is far from assured but News Ltd have just released their first round of figures for digital subscription. They appear to be very encouraging.
Here’s the announcement:
via Media Release Wednesday March 14, 2012
The chief operating officer of The Australian, John Allan, today announced that the newspaper has attracted over 30,000 paying subscribers to its digital platforms. In addition to this number approximately 10,000 print subscribers have taken up the offer of a complimentary 12 month digital subscription, giving The Australian a total of 40,000 digital subscribers.
The Australian launched its digital subscription packages in October last year with a three month free trial of its Digital Pass which gives full access to its website, tablet application and mobile site. Conversion from the trial to paid subscriptions began at the end of January and continues.
Mr Allan said: “Clearly we are still in very early days, and we are learning every day, but this is an extremely encouraging start. The number of consumers who have trialled our product, and subsequently taken up the subscription offer, has comfortably exceeded both our internal sweepstakes and our budgets.
“This isn’t just about the headline number though – all our metrics are heading in the right direction. Critically, with print circulation remaining steady, we are growing overall paid sales of The Australian and we are earning more digital revenue under the new subscription model than we were under the advertising-only model.”
“Additionally, the launch has boosted print subscriptions – many people have chosen to take up the print and digital bundles – and we are gathering extremely valuable customer data. This is a great story for our advertisers.
“In short, we are very happy with the way things are going.”
The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell said: “If it were ever needed, this is more proof of how valued The Australian’s journalism is by its readers. In digital, just as in print, The Australian is peerless in its news breaking, analysis and opinion.”
The 30,000 paying digital subscriber total includes those who have taken up The Australian’s digital pass, bought new print and digital bundles, individual tablet application sales and sales of replica copies through Newspapers Direct. The Australian is not detailing breakdown between these channels at this stage, but will do so when expected changes to the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s reporting comes into effect in the coming months.
The Australian’s website includes a mix of premium subscription and free content and attracts a domestic unique audience figure of 1,139,000 per month (Nielsen Netview Hybrid Jan 2012). The Australian has a Mon-Fri circulation of 133,701 and 295,000 at the weekend. (Audit Bureau of Circulation, Dec 2011)