New Zealand is third highest-ranked country for online news payments

By Dr. Merja Myllylahti

Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

Auckland, New Zealand


Some things are just surprising.

It appears that in a short period of time, New Zealand has become the third highest-ranked country for online news paying. This is surprising because digital subscriptions for masthead newspapers are a relatively new phenomenon in the country. The NZ Herald (owned by NZME) introduced digital subscriptions as recently as in 2019.

In April, our research centre for Journalism, Media, and Democracy (JMAD) published its fourth Trust in News in Aotearoa New Zealand report. I co-author the annual report we produce in collaboration with the Reuters Institute for Study of Journalism.

Source: AUT research centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy, 2023
Source: AUT research centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy, 2023

Our 2023 report shows 23% of New Zealanders have financially supported — have paid for subscriptions and memberships offered by, and made donations to – online news publishers. The Reuters 2022 report shows that among 46 countries it surveyed, New Zealand sits third behind Norway (41%) and Sweden (31%).

The number of those who have paid for online news is higher than in Finland, the United States, and Belgium (19%), and in its closest neighbouring country, Australia (18%). On average, 17% of those surveyed in the Reuters report said they had financially supported online news.

Like other news markets, it is older readers paying for online news rather than younger generations. In New Zealand, only 15% of readers aged 18 to 24 years old had financially supported online news publishers whereas 33% of those older than 75 had done so.

However, the pattern of payments follows other media markets. According to the Reuters report, in Finland, 50% of those who pay a digital subscription for news, pay it for one publication: Helsingin Sanomat. In New Zealand, 51% of online news payments went to the NZ Herald.

Approximately 16% of those surveyed had donated money to Stuff, owned by Sinead Boucher. In April, New Zealand media reported the company was planning to introduce some kind of subscription model for Stuff or some of its regional newspapers. On April 27, Stuff confirmed it will introduce digital subscriptions for the first time for its regional mastheads The Post, The Press, and Waikato Times. Access to its main Web site will remain free.

The Otago Daily (OTD), owned by Allied Press, has already introduced digital subscriptions for its readers; the subscription price is sitting at NZ$3.75/week. Some of the OTD’s content is still freely available to the wider public.

In April, Stuff rebranded its masthead The Dominion Post by renaming it The Post, triggering speculation about Stuff’s subscription plans. About the name change, Boucher said that, while The Dominion Post is only a 21-year-old newspaper, it was “appropriate that the paper of the capital city reflects the changes that have happened in our broader society and keeps pace with New Zealand’s changing view of itself.”

Stuff owns 48 newspapers in New Zealand, several of which are older than 150 years old. Its other newspapers include The Press, Waikato Times, and Sunday Star-Times.

About Dr. Merja Myllylahti

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