Blog Post

Analyst: Paywall Subscribers Worth A Quarter Of Print Readers

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Even if newspapers migrate every print reader to paying online, they will still face big losses, according to one analyst.

Annual income per paywall subscriber on and is just a quarter that from subscribers to UK quality dailies’ print editions, Enders Analysis‘ Benedict Evans observes in a new note.

Switching off the presses, after a hypothetical future print-to-digital tipping point, might save newspapers 25 percent of their total costs — but this is not enough to make up the gap from the smaller online income, Evans says.

Even adding iPad income to web paywall revenue would only total half the income newspapers are currently making from print.

This is essentially the quandary of trading physical dollars for digital dimes. Publishers like Rupert Murdoch may be starting to conceive of a time, at least in theory, when paid tablet and web editions become popular enough to consider switching off print…

The problem with that, these numbers would suggest — even if all digital readers pay, publishers may need to double annual income per online customer to get there (ie. hike from £2 to £4 a week, and the iPad edition from £9.99 a month to £19.99).

How’s this for a corollary? — If that sounds bad, imagine the situation for publishers whose websites are not starting charging.

But at least those refuseniks can hold on to existing advertising, which an increasing number of them are considering to be sub-scale all the same…

One ad buyer from media agency MEC tells that advertisers have responded negatively to’s paywall: “We are just not advertising on it. If there’s no traffic on there, there’s no point in advertising on there. Online, we have far more options than just newspaper websites

5 Responses to “Analyst: Paywall Subscribers Worth A Quarter Of Print Readers”

  1. If the medium isn’t exactly the message, as McLuhan would have it, at least it matters. Paper is permanent. It’s solid, unchangeable and the broadsheet front page weighs and sifts the news in a code that has changed only slowly over generations. This is immensely valuable. A newspaper online is just another flotsam in the stream, impermanent, volatile, not necessarily believable and certainly optional in the minds of readers.

    Advertisers are right. Ads in physical papers aren’t worth what they once were but they still beat the heck out of online ads in terms of effectiveness, especially if those online pages are behind paywalls. Newspapers would do well to consider exiting en masse from the Internet and stop flailing away in the quicksand.

  2. joshuakarp

    This is EXACTLY why we’re charging subscription fees for The Printed Blog. It baffles me how companies are going to survive with their operating models by pushing everything online, even if people are willing to pay.