Australia third highest globally for paid news subscriptions

By Luke Anisimoff | 18 June 2018

The number of paid subscriptions to online news sites in Australia is accelerating significantly – up to 20% this year after hitting 13% in 2017, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018.

That puts the country the third highest on the table, behind Norway in first place with 30% and Sweden coming in second with 26%.

This is in stark contrast to Greece at the bottom of the ladder with 6% and the UK second last with 7%.

The biggest survey of its kind in the world, the research was undertaken by internet-based data analytics firm YouGov and involved 74,000 people from 37 countries - including 2026 from Australia.

“Across the industry we are seeing a renewed push to persuade consumers to pay directly for online news through subscription, membership, donations or per-article payments,” the report stated.

“Our data suggests that these efforts are paying off in some countries, but not yet in others.”

The report also stated that, “While digital advertising remains a critical source of revenue, most publishers recognise that this will not be enough, on its own, to support high quality journalism.”

Indeed, there is still room for improvement. “On the business side, pain has intensified for many traditional media companies in the last year with any rise in reader revenue often offset by continuing falls in print and digital advertising,” said Nic Newman, research associate for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

“Part of the digital-born news sector is being hit by Facebook's decision to downgrade news and the continuing hold platforms have over online advertising.”

Caroline Fisher, from the University of Canberra's News and Media Research Centre, said: “Advertising continues to shift away from print to online, which now makes up 50% of ad spend, the majority of which is going to major platforms Google and Facebook.”

The report also found that 30% of Australian internet users utilise an ad-blocker – up 6% from last year.

Further to this Fisher said: “The shift to online and mobile is being mirrored in news consumption. 58% of news consumers are using their smartphones to access news, overtaking computer and tablets for the first time.

Last month Nielsen, Ipsos and The Readership Works (TRW) collaborated with Australia’s news media industry to provide more robust audience data that helps demonstrate the true value of the news media sector. See the full story here.

Also, as reported by AdNews in March, News Corp’s subscription-based revenue was revealed as almost on par with advertising as it transitions its business model towards a user pays operation for its news business. In the third quarter of its 2018 fiscal year, News Corp earned US$687 million from advertising and US$659 million from circulation and subscriptions.

This represents a 2.5% decline in advertising revenue from the same period in FY17 and a 6.6% increase in subscriptions and circ. See the full story here.

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus