Early churn benchmarks suggest newly acquired subscribers stay

By Grzegorz Piechota


Oxford, United Kingdom


News subscribers acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic retained better after the first month than those acquired before the crisis. This comes as a surprise, as many feared these customers were attracted by the news on the pandemic and might cancel once the interest wanes.

  • This insight is based on the study of 295 paywalled news sites, released by Piano, a publishers’ business platform.
  • Cancellations of monthly subscriptions acquired in March dropped an average of 17% compared to subscribers acquired in January and February.
  • According to Piano, European sites retained better than the United States — they reduced churn by an average of 34%, while in the United States churn was flat.
  • “Given the big increase in acquisition, even flat churn rate is impressive,” believes Patrick Appel, director of research at Piano.
  • In March, the European news sites sold on average 146% more subscriptions than in February, and the U.S. sites sold 60% more. 

Last week, after three months since the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe and in the United States, weekly online subscription sales continued to be above the pre-pandemic levels.

  • In the week of May 24, the new starts in Europe were 85% up versus the weekly average of January and February.
  • The new subscription starts in the United States were 25% up comparing to the pre-COVID averages.
  • “The European increase is driven by promotions, so I wouldn’t read too much into the divergence,” Appel explained to INMA.

Banner image courtesy of Tofros.com from Pexels.

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