Digital Publishing Reader Revenue
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The 100k Club: Most popular subscription news websites in the world

The New York Times (6.1m), Washington Post (3m) and Wall Street Journal (2.4m) lead the way

Two dozen English-language news publishers and publications have collected 100,000 or more digital-only subscriptions, new research by Press Gazette has found.

Between them, the 24 news brands share more than 20m online subscriptions, a number that has been boosted significantly since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

US giants the New York Times (6.1m), Washington Post (3m) and Wall Street Journal (2.4m) lead the way in our 100k Club league table.

We also today exclusively reveal new figures for the Financial Times, the Guardian, Barron’s, McClatchy, the Los Angeles Times and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which has emerged as a digital leader among traditional US metropolitan daily newspapers.

Prices of subscriptions to the 24 publications and publishers vary from $1.99 a month for National Geographic to £75  ($100) a month for Dow Jones specialist title Financial News.

In all, Press Gazette’s calculations suggest that if all subscriptions were paid at full rate, they would be worth around $5.7bn (£4.2bn) a year to the publishers.

One of the major challenges for these news companies now is to convince their online readers – many of whom will have signed up at subsidised rates or at the peak of their interest in Covid-19 news – to continue paying for their subscriptions at pricier rates in the future.

1. The New York Times – 6.1m

With more than 6m paying online readers, the New York Times is the digital subscriptions trailblazer.

Helped by the Trump bump, former chief executive Mark Thompson oversaw a tenfold increase in online subscriptions during his eight-year tenure.

Shortly after taking the reins, new CEO Meredith Kopit Levien predicted that 100m people would be paying for online English-language news within ten years – and said the NYT can command a quarter of this market.

2. The Washington Post – 3m

Unlike its major rivals the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post is a private company, owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos. As such, it rarely speaks publicly about its subscriptions business.

However, Axios first reported at the end of November that it now has approximately 3m digital-only subscribers.

3. The Wall Street Journal – 2.4m

Helped by major news events such as the Covid-19 crisis and the 2020 presidential election, the News Corp-owned Journal has added close to half-a-million new paying readers to its online subscriber base over the past year.

4. Gannett – 1m

Gannett publishes USA Today, hundreds of local newspapers across the United States, and also owns Newsquest in the UK. Its 1,029,000 digital-only subscribers are spread across these titles, but it does not break them down by publication.

5. The Athletic – 1m

Like the Washington Post, the Athletic is privately owned and so decides when to release subscription information.

In September, the sports website’s co-founders, Adam Hansmann and Alex Mather, revealed to CNBC that they had hit 1m subscribers.

6. Financial Times – 945,000

The Financial Times – which was this month crowned News Provider of the Year at the British Journalism Awards – hit 945,000 digital subscribers in the third quarter of this year, Press Gazette understands. The figure has grown from 915,000 at the end of 2019.

The FT has a combined print and digital subscriber base of about 1.1m. Around 20,000 of its 945,000 digital subscribers also pay for print. Because they still pay full price for the digital side, they are included in the digital-only subscriber count.

7. The Guardian – 900,000

The Guardian recently surpassed 900,000 paying online readers, Press Gazette today reveals. This figure includes 352,000 subscriptions to its premium apps and tablet editions, and 548,000 recurring contributors to its journalism. The Guardian has operations in the UK, US and Australia

By William Turvill

For the full list of publishers, and to view the entire article, please visit Press Gazette.