The latest instalment of the FIPP Global Digital Subscription Snapshot, produced in partnership with Piano, has been launched and can be downloaded by members here.
The most comprehensive report on the global digital subscriptions market today, the 2022 Q4 Snapshot includes 140 individual titles, with a global reach of 42.1million digital-only subscriptions, as well as 39 video streaming services with 1.39 billion paying subscribers.
Summing up the current state of subscriptions in his introduction to the report, FIPP President and CEO, James Hewes points out:
“The opening months of 2023 are being billed as an uncertain time for all those that rely on subscription revenues. The combination of a looming recession – one we must be careful not to talk ourselves into – and inflation are casting a shadow over revenue streams that had looked to be in healthy post-Covid recovery. Eyes that had long been diverted elsewhere have started turning back to the relative comfort of the advertising market, quickly forgetting the frequent storms that blow over that particular safe harbour.
“But the evidence of our latest Global Digital Subscription Snapshot suggests otherwise. We see evidence of growth everywhere, and no sign that publishers are yet being affected by any sort of slowdown.”
Bundles of joy and bucking the trend
One of the biggest talking points in the report is the success The New York Times has had with its bundle strategy. By investing significantly in diversifying its content verticals and positioning itself as a content brand beyond news, the company now has over one million bundle subscribers.
The publisher’s content diversification and bundled subscription sales will play a key role as it surges towards its goal of 15 million subscribers (across all print and digital products) by 2027.
Meanwhile, research from Northwestern University Medill Local News Initiative shows subscriptions to local news have remained strong despite early signs that readership might be falling off.
While industry experts predicted the double blow of people returning to work post Covid and the impact of inflation on household finances might cause a downturn in subscriptions, data from the Medill Subscriber Engagement Index shows subs for local news publications in the US have risen.
“We are seeing that pageviews have gone down, but publishers are getting better at converting subscribers, so they are maintaining their numbers of new subscriptions,” says Matt Lindsay, President of media and data analytics firm Mather Economics. “There’s been a learning curve and now the big thing is retention and monetisation, how to raise the average price that people pay.”
There is more good news from the International News Media Association (INMA), after it launched a new subscription benchmark service for publishers using historical data from more than 160 news brands in 33 countries. Using this data, the INMA predicts publishers will continue to see healthy growth in digital subscriptions in 2023, albeit at a slower pace.
As always, the Snapshot includes news about digital subscriptions from around the world including gains for The Economist, Gazeta Wyborcza and Grupo Clarín and some troubling developments for The Washington Post.
The Snapshot also shows that, following a decade of monumental growth for streaming services, consumers are set to scale back the amount they spend on small-screen entertainment.
A worldwide survey by Accenture found that 38 per cent of respondents will cut back their subscription spending, while an additional 15 per cent stated they would greatly reduce the amount spent on subscription services.
A streaming service bucking the trend is Netflix. Following two tough quarters during which it lost subscribers, the streaming giant has returned to growth adding 2.41 million subscribers.
Netflix’s greatest rival Disney raked in 12 million new subscribers bringing its total subscription base to 164.2 million and generating $20.15 billion in revenue, but still falling short of expectations.
The Snapshot also looks at some of the pretenders to the streaming thrown, including Paramount – which has been going great guns thanks to popular shows like Yellowstone and Tulsa King – while also exploring the increase in subscribers to music services globally.