Running The Numbers: Mobile Newspaper Subscriptions

The Guardian‘s new subscription iPhone app, which we reported on last week, has arrived in iTunes Store, joining its counterpart Mail Online in trying to eke subscription income from mobile readers…

Title Mobile web 6mth app 12mth app

Guardian

Free

£2.99

£3.99

Mail Online

Free

£4.99

£8.99

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But how much success will they have with this strategy? The Guardian has devalued itself on mobile to between four and 12 percent of its equivalent print subscription price…

Guardian format Ad hoc 6mth 12mth

Newspaper

£1 per day

£154.34

£308.69

Mobile app

Free (3 stories)

£2.99

£3.99

Mobile web

Free

Free

Free

Web

Free

Free

Free

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With its higher price on mobile, the Mail has reduced itself to about 17 percent the cost of its annual subscription

Mail format Ad hoc 6mth 12mth

Newspaper

50p per day

N/A

£187.20

Mobile app

Free (60 days)

£4.99

£8.99

Mobile web

Free

Free

Free

Web

Free

Free

Free

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Whilst that makes mobile more attractive on price than a print sub, print subscriptions are rare in Britain (only three percent of Guardian readers and one percent of Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT) readers, according to recent O&O research.

The greater potential effect may be in cannibalising ad hoc daily print sales, says Enders analyst Benedict Evans…

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Guardian News & Media says its V1 app retains 164,000 active users from the 214,000 people who had paid a one-off fee for it in the last 12 months – a high proportion.

Let’s assume it converts a similarly high 100,000 of those to pay again per year – this would result in an additional £399,000. Nothing to be sniffed it…

The Guardian sold an average 209,934 print copies per weekday at full cover price in 2010, according to *ABC* – that’s about £55 million a year. Suddenly, mobile looks like a modest, albeit incremental, portion of the publisher’s paid income.

The extent of any lost advertising-exposed eyeballs, caused by any migration from print to mobile, may become more of a concern, and the papers remain steadfast in their free web strategy.

NB. The new V2 app is free in the U.S., where The Guardian is trying to build its audience.

Disclosure: Our publisher ContentNext is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media.

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