According to a Mediavision analysis of the Swedish market for daily press, consumer behaviour has changed radically in the past year. 540 000 households now subscribe to a digital daily newspaper, which is 160 000 – or 40 per cent – more than 12 months ago. This is good news for an industry that has been struggling for years. But there are also challenges, as many of the subscribers are free trials and pay very little or even nothing.
The digitalisation of the Swedish newspaper market has come a long way. Free trials and discounts have been a driving force, which has grown stronger as many media houses lifted the pay wall during the Corona pandemic in the second quarter. Looking at the past 12-months, households that hold a digital daily new subscription, e.g. access to only the digital edition, has increased by 40 per cent. As a result, more than half a million Swedish households now have access to a digital daily newspaper. Digital tabloid subscriptions also increased compared to Q2 in 2019, but not as much.
Mediavision also notes that a large and growing share of subscriptions are free trials. In Q2 2020, every fifth subscription was free, which is more than in Q2 2019. It is also higher than other digital subscription services such as music- or video streaming services. In addition, Mediavision’s study also shows an increasing risk of churn. This applies especially to free trial consumers. Strategies to convert these subscribers to paying customers is of utmost importance to the media houses.
Retaining and building a stable customer base is crucial to the newspaper industry, in the same way as for other streaming and music services. Free trials and other promotions appeal to a lot of potential customers, but the key is to transform non-paying subscribers into paying, comments Marie Nilsson, CEO of Mediavision. A path to attaining this may be by bundling digital newspapers with other products or services – for example broadband or movie-tickets.