How publishers are benefiting from subscription growth

Feb 1, 2022 | Articles

Sara Merino

Sara Merino



A lot happened in 2020 – a global pandemic, US elections, protests… People have been looking for reliable sources to stay informed, and it has been reflected in the growth of digital subscriptions in the last couple of years.

But not only news subscriptions have seen an increase in numbers. According to Press Gazette, entertainment and hobby magazines have been the preferred genres.

In an analysis of an Alliance for Audited Media report, Press Gazette informs of a decline of the Top 50 magazine print subscriptions by 7%. On the other hand, their digital counterparts have increased in a 70% since 2019.

In addition, other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are not missing the fun and have developed subscription services such as Bulletin and Twitter Blue respectively, both launched last year.

This has been a response to Substack, the online newsletter platform that has been rising in the last years and has reportedly hit 1 million subscribers in November.

What happens after the subscription spike?

The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely been the main cause for the rise of subscriptions but, how can publishers maintain this?

One of the main challenges publishers have is retention. This can be increased by learning more about subscribers and their habits, as well as by focusing on building community.

As Nieman Lab claims, it’s about “making sure that readers know what’s available to them, both in terms of site services and the daily flow of content, at the right pace and at the right time.”


Another key point is onboarding casual readers and transforming them into paying subscribers. People are willing to subscribe to digital media outlets in order to directly support the creators they believe in. This is what we call a patronage model.

Does this mean it’s the end of paywalls? Non trial and paid trial strategies have a high conversion rate compared to free trials, so it’s easy to assume that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. But only time can tell. What it’s certain is that patronage is a new trend that is gaining ground and it’s something to keep in mind for your future subscription strategy.

Has the pandemic increased subscriptions?

Definitely. The Covid-19 pandemic has boosted digital subscriptions in a 70%, especially in the hobby and entertainment magazine genres.

What can publishers do to maintain subscriptions?

Focusing on retention strategies is the best way to maintain the subscribers gained during the pandemic. These strategies should be based on engagement, community building and onboarding new users.

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