Digital Subscriptions Playbook | FTI Consulting

Digital Subscriptions Playbook

Accelerating Digital Subscription Transformation

Corporate Finance & Restructuring | Telecom, Media & Technology (TMT)

October 3, 2019

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FTI Consulting has developed the Digital Subscriptions Playbook in conjunction with the Google News Initiative and Local Media Association to build a framework for accelerating publishers’ digital subscription transformations. In this playbook, we will try to answer five key questions that we believe are critical to a successful transformation.

  1. Why should it be my top priority
  2. What is the revenue opportunity?
  3. How does my publication’s current state compare?
  4. How do I start making progress?
  5. How do I know I’m on the right path?

Exponential Growth

Digital subscriptions should be the single most important priority for every local news publisher today. In examining the revenue mix of a representative selection of newspaper publishers, FTI Consulting found that while digital subscriptions contribute just 3% of total revenue, the two-year compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of digital subscription revenue exceeded 60%. All other revenue categories were relatively flat or had significant declines.

Unsustainable Business Model Without Digital Subscriptions

Digital subscriptions offer a significant growth opportunity essential to offsetting declines in print-oriented revenue streams. Print advertising continues to experience double-digit secular declines. Recent print circulation revenue gains are projected to shift to declines as price increases, which have offset volume declines in recent years, begin to plateau. We believe that a sustainable newspaper business model must aggressively embrace digital subscriptions.

Changing Revenue Mix

Meanwhile, digital advertising revenue has been a challenging area for publishers to find meaningful growth. FTI Consulting found that digital advertising revenue trends have ranged from double-digit declines to single-digit growth for a select group of newspaper publishers. Strategies to grow and optimize digital advertising revenue should remain a publisher focus; however, significant competitive challenges remain, and digital advertising alone cannot support the future business model.


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