How News Income Can Drop Off A Cliff

SEO consultant Malcolm Coles shares how much his spending on one news brand has crashed in the digital age…

“I’ve gone from paying £230 a year for (The Guardian newspaper) to £4 (for the mobile app),” Coles writes.

Coles’ experience isn’t necessarily universal. But it’s scary – everyone knows someone who is buying fewer newspapers because digital equivalents are free or cheap. One analyst thinks replacing high cover price with cheap digital access is wrong…


paidContent:UK covered this idea back in January, when we ran some numbers on The Guardian and Mail Online‘s mobile apps, both of which have moved to subscriptions in search of recurring revenue. But one theory says the prices are still low enough that they risk cannibalising print revenue.



In online, these papers are still on a scale-building game – some of what they know they’ll lose in print custom, they hope they will make up in future by attracting more eyeballs and more customers for some product charges that may remain small. Indeed, mobile charges, small though they be, are not an income stream publishers had at all until a year or two ago.

But, set against Coles’ stark drop-off, you can certainly see why the likes of Times Newspapers and MNA’s Express & Star are playing the paid content bundling game – making digital products effectively free (much as they always have been) by including it with print subscriptions. This game is to keep up circulation and reader income.

Both The Guardian and Mail Online are due to release iPad apps. Each will carry fees but it’s not yet known whether the pricepoints will marry with their mobile app rates or will be higher. Mail Online, in fact, has re-introduced a free, ad-supported mobile app alongside its subscription version…

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