Digital news subscriptions ranking: 100k Club topped by NYT and WSJ

100k Club: Digital news subscriptions top 30m across largest publishers

The Wall Street Journal comes second in Press Gazette’s 100k Club ranking of digital news subscriptions

The world’s largest English-language news publishers now have more than 30m digital subscriptions between them, research from Press Gazette today shows.

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post lead the way with more than 14m subscriptions between them.

And six other companies – Gannett, the New York Times-owned Athletic, the Weather Channel, Substack, The Guardian and the Financial Times – now have one million subscriptions or more.

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This is the fourth edition of Press Gazette’s 100k Club, which ranks the world’s largest English-language news publishers by digital-only subscriptions. (See previous editions: December 2020, April 2021, November 2021.)

Today’s list features exclusive new figures for several publishers, including Insider, Bloomberg Media, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Globe and Mail.

Overall, 29 publishers and news brands from the US, UK, Canada and Australia feature in our ranking. We have newly updated figures for 20 of them.

1 – The New York Times: 8.4m

The New York Times believes there is an “addressable market” of 135m people for its subscriptions. So while the publisher is already the industry’s digital subs trailblazer, chief executive Meredith Kopit Levien is confident there is more to come.

The New York Times Company as a whole reported having 8,328,000 digital-only subscribers as of the end of March 2022. Between them, they had 9,620,000 digital subscriptions split between the Times website, its Cooking division, Games, Wirecutter and The Athletic. The NYT bought The Athletic for $550m in January.

For the purposes of this ranking, Press Gazette has used the NYT’s subscription (rather than subscriber) figure and separated out The Athletic as a distinctive editorial brand (see ranking below).

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, March 2022

2 – The Wall Street Journal: 3m

The Wall Street Journal passed the 3m digital-only subscription mark in the first quarter of this year, as revealed in News Corp’s latest results last week. It has overtaken The Washington Post to become the world’s second most popular digital news subscription.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, March 2022

3 – The Washington Post: 2.7m

The Washington Post, like many other US news titles, experienced a slowdown in digital subscriptions sales last year following a bumper 2020 that included the Covid-19 crisis and the last months of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Post, privately owned by Jeff Bezos, does not regularly report its subscription figures. In December 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Post’s digital-only subs had fallen from 3m to 2.7m between January and October.

Source and date of figure: The Wall Street Journal, October 2021

4 – Gannett: 1.8m

Gannett, a local publishing giant that owns hundreds of US titles, USA Today and Newsquest in the UK, now reports having 1.75m subscribers across its American news sites. Reporting its quarterly results last week, Gannett said it expects to top 2m digital-only subs this year.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, March 2022

5 – The Athletic: 1.3m

Owned by The New York Times Company since January, The Athletic had 1,101,000 subscribers at the time of acquisition and 1,233,000 subscriptions. It added 16,000 net subscribers and 24,000 subscriptions during the quarter.

Source: Quarterly earnings, March 2022

6 – Weather Channel: 1m

Owned by IBM, the Weather Channel’s premium digital subscription gives readers access to enhanced forecast and weather data. As of March, the company said it had 1.025m subscribers, up 12% on March 2021.

Source and date of figure: Company spokesperson, March 2022

7 – The Guardian: 1m

The Guardian says it reached 1,00,035 “digital subscriptions” in November 2021. The figure included 419,541 conventional subscriptions to its apps, and 580,494 “recurring contribitions”. The Guardian’s website is free, meaning it is partly dependent on supporters.

Source and date of figure: Press release, November 2021

8 – Substack: 1m

Substack is a website that allows users to write and charge for access to newsletters. Big-name writers include Glenn Greenwald, Bari Weiss and Dominic Cummings. Between them, Substack says its writers have more than 1m paying subscriptions.

Source and date of figure: Company announcement, November 2021

9 – Financial Times: 1m

The FT announced that it had reached 1m digital-only subscribers in March. Later that month, the title launched a new cut-price subscription app called FT Edit. In an interview with Press Gazette, FT editor Roula Khalaf said she hoped the app would appeal to readers who might not otherwise pay the full-rate subscription price.

Source and date of figure: Press release, March 2022

10 – The Economist: 995k

The Economist looks likely to become the third British newsbrand (after The Guardian and FT) to top 1m subscriptions. The Economist’s digital circulation in the second half of 2021 was 995,228, according to its ABC report. More than half of its digital circulation comes from North America.

Source and date of figure: ABC, July-December 2021

11 – News Corp Australia: 946k

News Corp’s Australian division includes The Australian, The Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph. As of the end of March 2022, it reported having 946,000 digital subscribers, up 17% on the same month last year.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, March 2022

12 – Dow Jones (ex. The Wall Street Journal): 905k

Another division of News Corp, Dow Jones reported having 3,941,000 digital-only subscriptions in the first quarter of 2022. Excluding The Wall Street Journal, its digital-only subs totalled 905,000. Dow Jones titles include Barron’s, Market Watch, Financial News, Private Equity News and, following a recent acquisition, Investor’s Business Daily.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, March 2022

13 – Medium: 725k

The blog-hosting giant had around 725,000 subscriptions as of March 2021, according to Axios. It has not provided figures since.

Source and date of figure: Axios, March 2021

14 – The Telegraph: 578k

The Telegraph, headquartered in London, is one of the fastest growing titles in Press Gazette’s 100k Club. In October 2020, it had 335,000 digital-only subscriptions. In March this year, it reached nearly 578,000, according to figures verified by PwC.

Source and date for figure: Press release, March 2022

15 – The Los Angeles Times: 500k

The Los Angeles Times is America’s largest news subscription business on the West Coast. In an interview with Press Gazette, the Times’ owner Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong said he would like his title to ultimately reach 4-5m digital-only subscribers. For now, according to a spokesperson, the LA Times has around 500,000. The figure includes its circulation on Apple News+.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, May 2022

16 – Lee Enterprises: 492k

Lee Enterprises titles include The Arizona Daily Sun, The St Louis Post-Dispatch and Tulsa World. The company is currently in a battle to avoid being acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

Source and date for figure: Quarterly earnings, March 2022

17 – Tribune Publishing: 436k

Tribune Publishing was acquired by Alden Global Capital in May 2021. It has not reported any financial or subscription figures since then.

Source and date for figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2020

18 – The Times, Sunday Times and TLS: 421k

Another News Corp division, The Times, Sunday Times and Times Literary Supplement had 421,000 digital subscribers between them in March 2022.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, March 2022

19 – Bloomberg Media: 385k

Bloomberg Media launched its paywall in 2018. Following strong growth in 2020, subscription growth slowed in 2021. Its subscriptions total has grown from around 350,000 in November last year.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, May 2022

20 – The Atlantic: 364k

The Atlantic had an average digital circulation of 363,912 in the second half of 2021, according to its latest Alliance for Audited Media certificate. About 61,000 of its circulation was accounted for by Apple News+.

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2021

21 – Insider: 350k

Owned by German publishing giant Axel Springer, Insider rarely discloses new subscription figures. A company spokesperson said this week that its total – across consumer-facing site and Insider Intelligence, its B2B business – is now around 350,000, up from 250,000 in early 2021.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, May 2022

22 – The New Yorker: 342k

In the second half of 2021, The New Yorker’s average digital circulation was 342,000, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. The figure includes an Apple News+ circulation of around 46,000.

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2021

23 – Hearst Newspapers: 300k

Hearst Newspapers told Poynter in January that it then had 300,000 digital-only subscribers and was aiming to increase this figure by 100,000 this year. The San Francisco Chronicle alone was reported to have 140,000 paying digital readers.

Source and date for figure: Poynter, January 2022

24 – McClatchy: 299k

In Press Gazette’s first 100k Club we reported that McClatchy – the local publisher of titles including The Sacramento Bee, Miami Herald and Kansas City Star – had 299,000 digital subscribers. The company has not updated this figure.

Source and date for figure: Company source, December 2020

25 – National Geographic: 269k

National Geographic had an average digital circulation of 268,640 in the second half of 2021, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. The figure included an Apple News+ circulation of 77,000.

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2021

26 – The Boston Globe: 237k

The Boston Globe is often cited as the most successful individual local news subscription business. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it had around 145,000 digital-only subs. Now, according to Tom Brown, vice president for consumer revenue, it has around 237,000.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, May 2022

27 – The Globe and Mail: 209k

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s largest national newspaper. It has become the nation’s must successful digital news subscription business thanks in part to the launch of its own subs-building AI technology, Sophi. According to a spokesperson, the title now has around 208,600 digital-only subscriptions.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, May 2022

28 – Wired: 186k

Technology title Wired had a digital circulation of 185,753 in the second half of 2021, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. About 80,000 of its circulation came from Apple News+.

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2021

29 – Australian Community Media: 100k

ACM owns The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald and Border Mail. It announced last August that it had surpassed 100,000 digital subscribers.

Source and date for figure: Press release, August 2021

The nearly 100k Club…

The Minneapolis Star Tribune, a previous member of the 100k Club, has seen its digital-only subscriber number fall slightly to 99,449. Steve Yaeger, the Star Tribune’s chief marketing officer and senior vice president for circulation, said: “Our core offering (Premium Digital Access) is still growing to plan, but we are managing down volumes on some less-profitable digital offerings like replica-only.”

In the UK, the Mail+ – a premium digital offering from the publisher of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online – is understood to be approaching 100,000 subscribers.

NZME, publisher of the New Zealand Herald, reports having 191,000 subscribers, including 83,000 digital-only subscribers.

Any more? If you know of any publishers or newsbrands that should be on our list, please email william.turvill@pressgazette.co.uk. Our ranking is currently focused on English-language publications, but we are interested in hearing about other successful titles in this area.

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