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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - August 2019

Why people only subscribe to one newspaper

Ever since the amazing "The Reuters Institute's Digital News Report for 2019" came out, there is particularly one part of it that everyone is talking about. It's the part where they found that people were generally only willing to pay for a single newspaper.

Well, it's not actually that bad, because while this is what most people say, the study actually found that it was around 55%, with another ~25% willing to buy two, and about 10% who were willing to buy 3.

Still, we are not seeing a lot of plurality here, and if you then start to think about the generally low conversion rate, one might say that this is a problem.

However, the problem is not what most people think it is. The reason why people are only willing to buy one newspaper, is because there is never any reason to buy two. In fact, what we see here is the supermarket effect.

Let me explain.

The supermarket vs the specialty store

What we see in the media world today is exactly the same trend that we see across every other form of industry, and the simplest way to illustrate this is to talk about groceries.

Here is a simple question: Where do you go to buy your groceries?

For most people, the answer is that you go to that one store that you prefer to use. That one store that has all the things you generally need.


Sure, sometimes another grocery store might have a special discount, or maybe there is another supermarket further away that has better availability of certain products, so you go there when you specifically need that. But it's still just one store.

But we can take this even further.

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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