Digital paywalls’ impact in U.S.’ newspaper revenue

According to the “State of the News Media 2012” research by Nielsen, Pew and the NAA, about one third, or 450 U.S. newspapers have a paywall or are planning to construct one. About US$10 billion was made in 2011 on print and digital subscription revenue.

The United States’ largest newspaper chain, Gannett, makes one third of its revenue from circulation, and reports that they have 46,000 digital-only subscribers for their 80 newspapers. Meanwhile, 25 percent of the Lee Enterprises newspaper chain’s revenue comes from circulation, and they report a 4 percent circulation revenue increase from 2010 to 2011. The New York Times has 640,000 digital subscribers. Circulation has surpassed advertising revenues at The New York Times Company.

The New York Times reported in February 2013 that since they built their paywall in Quarter 2, 2011, the Times has seen a marked increase in quarter-over quarter revenues for circulation. Particularly of note is that during each quarter of 2012, circulation revenue growth has been in double digits, including a whopping 18.1 percent growth between Q3 and Q4 of 2012.

The Gannett Company reported in February 2013 that their net income per share increased 36 percent from Quarter 3 2011 to Quarter 3 2012, while the publishing segment dropped 3 percent. Gannett has seen a market increase of 22.8 percent for digital operating revenues company-wide, from US $320.6million to $334.6 million. Broadcast segments rose at a healthy clip of 38.1 percent for television revenues, from $168.8 million to $233 million during that time frame, and 36 percent for the broadcast operating segment, from $174.3 million to $237 million.

Eight percent of consumer magazines surveyed in North America charge for content on iPads, while half of newspapers and one-third of business publications do so, according to the Alliance for Audited Media’s Digital Publishing Survey in 2012. Meanwhile, the majority of consumer magazines also charge for content on Kindle (60 percent), Nook (56 percent) and iPhone (52 percent).

The data set is a part of a collection of 500 revenue and usership trends in mobile, social, Internet, tablet, video and other digital categories, published in the 200-page Global Digital Media Trendbook 2013. GDMT, in its eight year, is to be published by World Newsmedia Network, a not-for-profit media research company, in September 2013. To subscribe to the PDF report and/or the tablet edition, go to, or contact

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