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Report Finds 41% Of American News Readers Would Pay To Subscribe To Digital News

By March 8, 2016 at 7:07 am
newspapers (Photo : Getty Images/Matt Cardy)

Forty-one percent of news consumers in the United States could be persuaded to purchase digital newspaper subscriptions, according to a research report from MECLABS.

"Newspaper executives should be encouraged by the findings of our survey and research report," said Flint McGlaughlin, managing director, MECLABS Institute.

"In the media industry's efforts to sell digital subscriptions, they may be missing the fact that if they deliver a better value proposition, people are going to buy.

Contrary to public perception that consumers are unwilling to pay for digital news subscriptions, a new survey and related Newspaper Paywalls and Digital Subscriptions research report from MECLABS Institute indicates that 41 percent of news consumers are in fact not completely opposed to paid digital subscriptions, and 19 percent are open to their purchase.

"The real question isn't - will people buy digital subscriptions? The real question is - how can we use the digital landscape, the ecosystem, all of its advantages to deliver a better value proposition? The minute they answer that, they solve the real problem."

The online survey consisted of a panel of 900 U.S. news consumers aged 25 and older, with household incomes of $40,000 or higher and who spent three hours or more in a typical week consuming news in print or digitally.

The MECLABS Institute Newspaper Paywalls and Digital Subscriptions report is based both on quantitative survey data as well as qualitative information obtained by interviewing industry and academic experts.

The experts included Peter Doucette, vice president of consumer sales and marketing, The Boston Globe; Charles Duhigg, senior editor, The New York Times; Michael Brunt, chief marketing officer and managing director for circulation, The Economist; Randy Bennett, executive director for external relations, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications; Ava Seave, principal, Quantum Media, and assistant adjunct professor, Columbia Journalism School; Craig Barberich, global head of media solutions, Zuora; and Flint McGlaughlin, managing director, MECLABS Institute.

The survey found, for 55-64 year olds, international news is more important than for 25-34 year olds-94 percent of 55-64 year olds rated international news as essential compared to 83 percent of 25-34 year olds. National news is also more important for 55-64 year olds (99 percent rated this topic as essential as compared to 93 percent of 25-34 year olds and 96 percent of 35-44 year olds).

Politics and government are also more important for 55-64 year olds (98 percent) than for 25-34 year olds (84 percent), 35-44 year olds (88 percent) and 45-54 year olds (87 percent). Editorials and opinions skew older, too-they are more important for news consumers 65 years old and older (64 percent) than they are to 25-34 year olds (43 percent) and 35-44 year olds (47 percent).

Entertainment news is more important for 25-34 year olds (42 percent) and 35-44 year olds (41 percent) than they are for 55-64 year olds (28 percent) and 65 year olds and older (29 percent). Arts/culture are more important for 25-34 year olds (53 percent) and 35-44 year olds (53 percent) than for 65 year olds and older (35 percent)

Science is more important to 25-34 year olds (76 percent) than to 45-54 year olds (65 percent) and to 65 year olds and older (59 percent).

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