Subscribers support a free press
Netflix and Spotify proved that you could get paid for online content. Other businesses are following – not least the media. In Schibsted over 1,100,000 people subscribe to one of our newspapers – 65 percent are digital only. Having subscribers, in addition to advertisers, pay for your work means you can focus more on in-depth pieces instead of writing articles mainly to generate page views. It also makes the business model more robust.
But acquiring digital subscribers is expensive, especially when many people still attribute greater value to the print product. And within a few years there will likely be a natural market cap in volume and in revenues. To secure media independence in a climate that is indifferent to or hostile towards mainstream news is another crucial challenge when, at the same time, there’s a major technological disruption to the income streams. To succeed in this, we believe in having a consolidated consumer business unit that is closely aligned with product and editorial.
We have to clarify our brands
We’ve identified five areas that we will focus our attention on: Our news brands are our greatest assets. They have been built by providing decades of high quality reporting that people trust. But in a world where we’re addressing consumers, we have to clarify our brands, to help people choose us. Bundling is an avenue worth pursuing. Business financial news from all our brands might for example be an enticing prospect. Creating a portfolio that allows for rich bundling and flexible payments is crucial. Many people value discoverability and curation above all else. We need to create the kind of premium subscriber experience that evokes real desirability.
Much work is to be done
The more data driven we become, the better we optimize the consumer business. We still have huge potential in automating our prospecting, sales and anti-churn efforts. There is also a lot of value to be created outside our editorial products. This is done by many today by offering loyalty programs. We believe we can scale and professionalize a lot of these offerings. Much work is yet to be done, but we’re going into this uncertain future with our eyes open. We believe we are on the right path to finding new models that our businesses can rely on, in order to safeguard the future of a trustworthy, free and independent press.