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Newsonomics: Newsprint tariffs are a Black Swan event that could speed up the death of U.S. newspapers
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June 28, 2016, 10:09 a.m.
Business Models
LINK: nymag.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   June 28, 2016

New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman takes a look at The Washington Post under the leadership of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in this week’s issue. Some tidbits, most of which have an “according to sources” attached, from the article:

— The Washington Post’s digital revenue is reportedly “around $60 million, far below what the newsroom needs to function.” (By comparison, at The New York Times — a significantly larger paper, but one that Bezos sees the Post as being in direct competition with — digital revenue was around $400 million, including digital subscriptions and digital ad revenue, in 2015, and the paper wants to double this by 2020.) Bezos reportedly told staffers at a recent meeting that “the company’s annual budget, currently around $500 million, will have to be cut by 50 percent over the next three years,” though the paper denied this to Sherman.

— The Post’s tablet app has reportedly reached 100,000 paid subscribers, making it “the Post’s biggest digital success story by far.” The app comes pre-installed on all Amazon Fire tablets, and Amazon Prime subscribers get free six-month subscriptions to all the Post’s digital products; once the six months are up, they pay $3.99 a month.

By comparison, Post digital subscriptions for non-Amazon Prime members start around $99 per year, though we’ve seen offers that drive that price a lot lower.

— If the Post’s paywall strategy has seemed a little murky, that is at least partly by design:

Another project analyzes reader behavior in the days leading up to when they subscribed, so that, instead of putting up a universal paywall of a certain number of free articles per month, the Post can better target potential subscribers. For instance, if a reader clicks on mostly articles on health, then he would be asked to subscribe after reading a fifth health article, when he’s most likely to want to keep reading.

— The Post is licensing its publishing platform, Arc, to other publishers (the largest to sign up so far, out of about a dozen enrollees, Canada’s Globe and Mail). “The Post believes it can eventually generate $100 million a year from the business.”

— “This spring, the Post became the first publication to team with Google to build a prototype of a ‘progressive web app,’ designed to cut mobile page-load times from four seconds to 80 milliseconds and to let readers surf the Post in their browsers even without a web connection.”

— “According to a recent analysis, the Post, which has a newsroom of about 700, generates 500 stories per day, compared to 230 at the Times, whose newsroom has about 1,300 employees. That’s also about twice what BuzzFeed publishes daily.”

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