Yet another challenge for publishers: Subscription fatigue.

As if it isn’t enough that newspaper and magazine publishers have to compete with an ever-widening array of information providers, in the effort to migrate subscription revenues from print to digital these publishers are squaring off against an additional challenge: subscription fatigue.

Not every consumer is opposed to paying for media, but with so many fee-based streaming services now being offered — including the ones by powerhouses like Netflix and Spotify — trying to get people to focus on “yet another” resource is proving difficult.

Moreover, when it comes to news information sources it’s even more challenging. According to a recent Digital News Report prepared by Reuters Institute, when given a choice between paying for news or paying for a video streaming service, only ~12% of respondents in the Reuters survey stated that they would pick the news resource.

It seems that with so many time demands on people’s online activities, fewer are willing to pay for access to information that they don’t wish to commit to consuming on a regular basis. Unlike most of the entertainment streaming services, news stories are often available from free sources whenever a consumer might choose to access such news stories. Those alternative news sources may not be as comprehensive, but i’s a tradeoff many consumers appear willing to make.

This is hurting everyone in the news segment, including local newspapers in smaller markets which have faced a major falloff in print advertising revenues.

Underscoring this dynamic, more than 1,800 newspapers in the United States have closed their doors in the past 15 years. Today, fewer than half of the country’s counties have even one newspaper within their borders. This fallout is affecting the availability of some news information, as local media have a history of covering stories that aren’t covered elsewhere.

But it’s yet more collateral damage in the sea change that’s upended the world of newspapers and periodicals in recent years.

More findings from the Reuters Institute report can be accessed here.

One thought on “Yet another challenge for publishers: Subscription fatigue.

  1. The psychological dimension of this is that once upon a distant time, people felt they had to pay for a particular paper to be “on top of things” — even when they might disagree with its editorial policy. Journalists pretended to be objective — even when one knew they weren’t.

    These days information is everywhere, so the natural human impulse to be tribal has reasserted itself. The New York Times used to weigh seven pounds on Sunday — literal gravitas. But you needed it to find out what movies were playing, to hunt for a job, rent an apartment or sell a used car.

    These days that sort of information is found elsewhere, leaving in place the grey eminences, still full of themselves, whom we now dismiss with something between grains of salt and outright contempt.

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