The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism released its annual trends and predictions report last week, featuring survey data collected from 246 publishing executives from 52 countries or territories. Key takeaways included:
- 79% of publishing executives said subscriptions are their primary revenue priority for the year, ahead of advertising, events, commerce and other streams.
- 59% percent said their companies’ revenues increased in 2021, driven primarily by growth in subscription and advertising revenue.
- Revenue diversification is a goal. On average, publishers expect three or four different streams will be important or very important to their bottom lines this year.
- News publishers are increasingly looking to diversify their content offerings beyond news in attempt to attract and retain subscribers, combat subscription fatigue, and stand out from crowd as competition for subscription dollars heats up.
- Publishers expect to invest more heavily in podcasts and email newsletters this year, two channels that have proved relatively effective in driving subscriber retention. 14% say they’ll be investing in voice and just 8% in creating new applications for the “metaverse”.
- Consolidation is expected to continue throughout the year as prominent publishers look to bolster their offerings for subscribers and beef up their audience reach for advertisers.
News publishers hoping to continue the rate of subscriber growth they’ve experienced over the past four years may need to manage their expectations or continue to make significant changes to their products and offerings, however.
For many publishers, the realities of operating a subscription business hit home in 2021 as it became apparent that attracting new paying subscribers is no picnic, retaining them can often be harder, and – fundamentally – that creating content and products that audiences deem valuable enough to pay for on an ongoing basis is a tough nut to crack. News publishers should plan for many of those challenges to continue into 2022.
For more practical guidance on building sustainable subscription and membership products and businesses, see the Subscription Publishing Toolkit.