David & Goliath: Publishers Must Compete with Music & Film Platforms

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019 was officially presented at year’s GEN Summit, making it top of mind for panelists and audiences alike. Two of the key takeaways that everyone focused on were:

  1. The report’s finding that “subscription fatigue” is increasing
  2. The growing trend that most readers would prefer not to have to pay for online news

A third finding saw less publicity, however, namely that publishers will increasingly need to compete for consumers’ dollars with music and film platforms - and users themselves would much rather spend money on entertainment services than information. 

The idea that publishers must now compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Disney is galling enough. But when we look at what those platforms, we can learn more about what users expect from online subscriptions, and it brings that reality into sharp relief.

When it comes to the current state of entertainment subscriptions, the harsh reality is that we live in a world where users get - and expect to get - a huge amount of value for very little money. Disney has one of the best brands in the world - with perhaps the best single movie catalogue in the world, covering Lucasfilm, Marvel, Disney and Pixar and a ton of other stuff. They are universally popular but, despite this, they still feel that they can’t charge more than $6.99 a month for their upcoming streaming platform. And they’re in good company - Hulu charges $5.99 a month and Netflix starts at $8.99. Amazon’s offering comes free with a Prime subscription!


Users compare and judge subscription models, just like they compare and judge everything else. And the reality is that they see publishing as a part of their media consumption, not something that comes with its own budget. And this is what the publishing industry is up against today - it must find a way to compete with these low-cost, high-value subscriptions. 

What this means is that publishers need every tool and every strategy they can get to be competitive and secure users’ attention and money. From LaterPay’s perspective that means:

  1. Take a user-centric approach to content monetization - Put convenience at the center and allow truly frictionless access to content in models that accurately reflect the user’s consumption behavior.
  2. Don’t rely on one source of revenue - Besides subscriptions and ad revenue, there is a vast number of monetization options for publishers to consider, whether they be donations, single article purchases or an ad-free experience.
  3. Understand that not all readers will become subscribers - But by giving them what they want (a simple way to access the content they want, when they want it) publishers can build a loyal - and profitable - user base.

Sign up for a free LaterPay merchant account and put this theory into practice.