ALERT: INMA New Delhi early (discounted) registration deadline is today

Cable-style news bundles are spreading across Europe

By Greg Piechota

INMA

Oxford, United Kingdom

Connect      

Publishers in five European markets introduced cable-style subscription bundles that include national and local news, magazines, podcasts, video, and other benefits. If this model works, the innovation will likely spread globally.

This strategy differs from traditional bundling practices in the news industry, which mainly focus on adding content and features to the flagship products. Other media sectors, such as cable and paid satellite television providers, have long relied on bundles as a key driver of market expansion and profitability. 

By offering customers a package of products at a fixed price, news publishers can generate revenue from a broad range of services and effectively leverage economies of scale. This model allows companies to increase subscription rates and expand their subscriber base by catering to diverse consumer preferences. Bundles may also lock customers in, serving needs beyond information, and hold off competitors struggling to match the bundle’s offering. 

So far though, in almost all 46 countries surveyed by Oxford’s Reuters Institute in 2022, the majority of online subscribers paid for only one publication.

Cable-style bundles: In the past year, the leading publishers in Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Sweden launched mega-bundles, and their peers in other countries are watching closely. 

  • Poland: In late 2022, Ringier Axel Springer launched Onet Premium, bundling national and foreign news, lifestyle magazines, podcasts, video, and language courses.

  • Norway: Schibsted offered Full Tillgang (All Access), bundling tabloid and quality news, national and local news, business news and advice, a news aggregator app, and podcasts.

  • Sweden: In early 2023, Bonnier released +Allt (+All), bundling its two national brands and 40+ local ones, as well as magazines and puzzles. Schibsted responded soon with its own Swedish bundle.

  • Belgium: In its Digi Plus bundle, Mediahuis offered national and local brands, magazines, and podcasts.

  • Netherlands: DPG Media added Uit Andere Media (From Other Media): a bundle of 11 national and local newspapers, lifestyle and entertainment verticals, podcasts, and puzzles.

INMA analysed seven super-bundles and found the number of brands packaged together varied from five to 90, with a median of 11. All bundles included national news, and all but two included local news. All offered podcasts, and all but one offered video content. 

Most bundled brands were published by the same groups, although two publishers also offered licensed content from partners, e.g., international brands. One publisher sold its brands only in a bundle, others let readers choose whether to bundle or buy brands separately.

All publishers offered discounted trials. When comparing post-trial monthly subscription prices of the bundles to those of the flagship brands alone, the bundles cost from 50% to 230% more, 118% more on average.

Rebundling the news: Some of the bundlers told INMA they were inspired by the cable business. National news executives looked up to The New York Times (launched a bundle in 2021). And local news executives envied the success of Norway’s Amedia (launched in 2020).

They were pioneers. A 2022 study by INMA revealed that among the top 50 news subscription brands, a significant 96% incorporated additional benefits into their news products, enhancing the value proposition. However, only 32% bundled their news products with standalone or non-news products, reaching beyond the needs of the core readership.

Differently than most of its peers, the growth of The New York Times is increasingly driven by non-news products. Subscriptions to Games, Cooking, or Wirecutter made 33% of all subscriptions to The Times in 4Q 2022 and 69% of new additions, per the financial report.

The Times found its bundle customers were more engaged than the single-product customers, generated higher ARPU, and churned less. The Times’s digital strategy is following the footsteps of its print era expansion, as it grew circulation in the 1970s with new sections appealing to non-news readers.

Amedia launched its +Alt (+All) add-on offer to local brand subscribers in 2020 as an option to check on friends and family locked down during the pandemic in other regions. A whopping 170,000 (26%) of all 660,000 subscribers tried the bundle for free. 

A year later, 140,000 kept paying for the bundle. Amedia’s Ole Werring told INMA that all 73 participating local newspapers increased their revenue thanks to +Alt, and the offer “contributed significantly” to the company’s bottom line.

Interested in bundling? Learn from The New York Times’ and Schibsted’s case studies at the INMA World Congress of News Media in New York on May 24-26. Click here to register.

Greg’s Readers First newsletter is a public face of a revenue and media subscriptions initiative by INMA, outlined here. Subscribe here.

About Greg Piechota

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.
x

I ACCEPT