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Amedia builds premium news service, gets 120,000 paying subscribers in 8 months

By Pål Nedregotten

Amedia AS

Oslo, Norway

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By Ole Werring

Amedia AS

Oslo, Norway

Norwegians have deep roots, yet move easily. When going off to study, many decide to stay in their adopted city for the rest of their lives. Many move to get new jobs. Urbanisation means the voices you hear in Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim are a myriad of Norwegian dialects, from the north to the west and south.

Still, Norwegians are fiercely proud of the place they come from — or, indeed, the place their parents come from, where the family often retains a summer or winter cottage. Even after living in a big city for 30 or 40 years, it is not unusual to hear people say they’re from somewhere else.

This also means Norwegians are interested in news not only from the place they live but also from the place they came from. They still follow the local football team. They want news about how the place is developing and stories about people they used to know. And, in many cases, that interest also spans the region in which they have purchased their “hytte,” a summer place by the sea or a winter place in the mountains.

With 70+ titles all over Norway, Amedia is uniquely positioned to deliver that news.

Amedia’s “everything package” — +Alt (“+Everything”) — was launched as an up-sell tier in May 2020, giving complete access to more than 70 newspapers covering all regions of Norway. It answers the user need for a one-payment and single sign-on option to enjoy digital news from all of our newspapers.

It is also the answer to one of Amedia’s challenges: How can we utilise our distribution power in the Norwegian market to give even more readers access to journalism produced and published locally? Amedia is Norway’s largest owner of local newspapers, with more than 80 titles covering most parts of the country. More than 1,000 journalists write thousands of articles every day, but most articles traditionally were distributed to, and seen by, a limited number of local readers.

Uptake in the market was immediate, delivering increased financial results to all participating newspapers as well as delivering value to 120,000 subscribers (at the time this was written). +Alt has also been nominated to a whopping four categories in the INMA 2021 Global Media Awards.

Our main objectives with +Alt were simple:

  • We wanted to take advantage of economies of scale and utilise our distribution power in the Norwegian market, give our unique content a larger paying audience (new subscribers), and launch an upsell product to existing customers to increase our ARPU.
  • We wanted to answer the clearly expressed user needs for an easier way to navigate between digital news sites with a subscription model where they can access more news titles through one subscription and one login.

Our hypothesis was that +Alt could be the answer to both Amedia’s wish to capitalise on the huge production of news stories and the news reader’s need for a service that can offer a seamless navigation through all newspapers with a single sign-on through our own identification and log-in system, aID. And with only one subscription to handle.

Through 2020, we developed and launched +Alt as a service with the following subscriber benefits:

  • One subscription covering more than 70 newspapers is a unique deal for the Norwegian news audience, offered at a premium price.
  • Single sign-on and seamless navigation between all digital newspapers included in +Alt makes this the easiest way to read and navigate between Norwegian newspapers.
  • Access to more than 1,000 new articles every day and huge archives for long-tail reading offers the richest subscription product in Norway.
  • +Alt subscribers are increasingly getting personalised recommendations for “next best read,” continuously showing the unique value of +Alt in a “Spotify for news” model, where all content is accessible in one service closely linked to the local news brand.
  • +Alt is marketed both to new customers and as an upsell for existing customers, strengthening the relationship to the local news brand and making them less likely to churn.

Now 10 months in, what have we learned?

Four days after launching +Alt as an upsell for existing subscribers in May 2020, we had 10,000 sales.

Starting in June 2020, we offered +Alt as a service to new subscribers, still on the shoulders of the local newspapers. This started a strong growth in total number of subscribers. We now have 120,000 subscribers on the +Alt package, corresponding to 18% of our total customer base.

One of the most important numbers we track, however, is how many subscribers we’ve seen surpassing a 100-day tenure. We know these subscribers are more loyal, read more, and are, thus, less likely to churn. Currently, that figure is on a healthy climb, rapidly approaching 75,000. After nine months of operation, we surpassed all our goals for year one.

In less than a year, we have achieved both of our main objectives:

  • To give our unique content a much larger paying audience.
  • To answer the user needs for an all-access subscription, with single sign-on and seamless navigation between news sites.

+Alt has been a runaway success for Amedia. Utilising already-produced content, the production cost is low and all participating newspapers generated a healthy surplus from +Alt in 2020, funneling much-needed funding for the production of quality local journalism.

+Alt has also been a major contributor to most of the 70 participating newspapers overperforming on subscription revenues in 2020. +Alt is now generating revenue for Amedia in the millions of Kroner every single month with a strong underlying growth.

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