Analyst: Paywall Subscribers Worth A Quarter Of Print Readers

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 TheTimes.co.uk and WSJ.com 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 TheTimes.co.uk 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 Independent.co.uk that advertisers have responded negatively to TheTimes.co.uk’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

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