Welcome back to issue #36 of Publisher Weekly! This week we’ve got some research-driven takeaways about how to drive retention in subscription media, thoughts on whether emerging business models can save media companies, some exciting announcements from the podcast industry, as well as what the future holds for outlets such as BuzzFeed and Vice following the huge layoffs.It’s been a busy week - enjoy!
💯 Top picks
Subscribers who visit your site frequently are more likely to stick around than those who read articles in depth
A new piece of research from Medill Local News Initiative at Northwestern suggests that ensuring your readers build a habit and engage with your content frequently will have the biggest impact on subscription retention. For good measure, here’s another summary of this research from Twipe, including some ideas for helping your readers to build a daily habit.
💸 Business models
“Not only is the subscription model demonstrating extremely encouraging early returns, it is a sane and comprehensible form of business: you make something, and then you sell that thing.”
A new program called Vox Video Lab invites Vox.com fans to get access to exclusive behind-the-scenes video content explaining Vox’s process and a monthly live Q&A with a producer. For a $9.99 subscription you’ll also get access to a quarterly Google Hangout - and their first meeting was a success!
Scroll is a $5/month ad-free news reading experience that will launch later this year. CEO Tony Haile wants to provide curators with a way to sustain themselves, so they acquired Nuzzel, an app that creates a news feed of the people you follow on Twitter with an added newsletter feature that allows users to send emails containing the stories they’re most interested in.
Instead, its success is a result of diligent planning and putting forward more inclusive journalism with readers at the centre. Check out the Membership Puzzle Project’s take on the most participatory journalism crowdfunding project in history!
✍️ Modern journalism
The Times becomes less reliant on print revenues every quarter, with over 40 percent of total revenue from digital and a boost in revenue coming from additional channels such as affiliate revenue and digital licensing.
After cutting 10 percent of headcount of 2,500 employees, Vice Media are looking to spin a different story as the company reduces costs and charts revenue growth.
Despite the recent layoffs, BuzzFeed is growing, except now they’re dealing with a new reality: increasing competition. Interestingly, they’re still embracing programmatic and display ads and diversifying in that area, while building a commerce team and affiliate team!
“It doesn’t seem like we’re striving to make third-party fact checking more practical for publishers — it seems like we’re striving to make it easier for Facebook. At some point, we need to put our foot down and say, 'No. You need to build an API.'”
Spotify’s announcement that it would purchase the podcast network Gimlet Media for close to $230 million has raised excitement (and many questions) about the future of the podcasting industry!
Substack have announced that they’re moving into paid podcasts by enabling audio publishing inside their newsletter tool. Curators will be able to embed links to audio media in their emails, which can be accessed (and listened to) via the browser for paying subscribers.
Jeff Bezos shared a remarkable post on Medium exposing the National Enquirer for blackmailing him with details about his personal life. He writes about his unswerving stewardship of the Washington Post and support of its mission as the reason behind his decision.