Leading news publishers are beefing up subscription bundles with more benefits

By Greg Piechota


Oxford, United Kingdom


Subscription offers get richer and prices get increasingly attractive as the leading news brands fight for market share and revenue growth at the same time, an INMA study finds.

Every year, INMA tracks the subscription offers of the top 50 news subscription brands ranked by the number of digital-only subscriptions, with The New York Times topping the list.

In 2Q 2023, 96%, or 48 out of 50 brands, offered additional benefits beyond news articles, a slight increase from 94% in the previous year.

For example, the Times was offering an All Access bundle that included News, Games, Cooking, Wirecutter, and The Athletic for US$1 per week for the first year. It’s a great deal, as these services bought separately would cost about US$5 per week (80% discount!).


Richer packages: What is new? 

We observed more frequent price bundles, in which publishers sell standalone products together as a package at a discount like in The New York Times example; 37% of brands bundled this way vs. 32% in the previous year.

  • The most popular benefit of such bundles was an extra subscription to another brand, e.g., another news site or a magazine, present in half of the reviewed bundles.

  • Popular were also gift subscriptions (extra sub for sharing with others) and access to separately marketed non-editorial products, e.g., games.

The consumer benefit from buying a bundle increased? The average discount for the package vs. the components was 52% in 2Q 2023, a much bigger saving than 27% observed last year.

Richer products: What has not changed that much?

Almost all publishers — 96% vs. 90% in the previous year — continued to integrate new benefits into their main products (product bundling). For example, they added new apps, podcasts, or features such as article gifting. 

Among the top brands, 63% added content and benefits to their main products only, without packaging any external products. Another 33% did a mix of product and price bundling. 

  • The most popular benefits integrated into the main products were mobile and tablet apps.

  • Popular were also e-replicas of the printed paper and premium newsletters (available for the subscribers only).

More flexibility

An increasing proportion of publishers — 25% vs. 21% in the previous year — allow customers to buy extra products both as a package and separately (mixed bundling). This is because more brands bundle standalone products.

Most publishers though — 75% — sell the extra benefits only as a package (pure bundling). This is because most continue to integrate features into their main products.


Some context

While 51% consumers internationally pay for online news to get access to better quality and exclusive content, and 45% identify with the brand and want to support good journalism, a large proportion pays for other reasons.

Based on the 2023 surveys of the Reuters Institute, 20% pay specifically to get access to non-news features, such as cooking or games; 27% simply liked the deal.

Adding features and flexibility to bundles emerges as a key strategy for subscriber growth. It allows publishers to: 

  • Make their offers stand out in a competitive market.

  • Generate more revenue per customer by selling multiple products together. 

  • Lower acquisition costs for less popular services by piggybacking on the more popular ones.

  • And reduce churn by engaging customers more and locking them in the publishers’ portfolio.

Interested in bundling? Check this explainer by Matt Lindsay of Mather Economics. 

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

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