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January 8, 2024

Online news paywall inflation running at 20% in UK

How annual digital subscription prices at the biggest news titles compare to one year ago.

By Clara Aberneithie and Charlotte Tobitt

The price of a digital news subscription has risen by 19% on average in the UK over the last year, according to Press Gazette analysis of 23 leading paywalled publishers.

Online news price rises are well ahead of inflation which stands at around 5% in the UK and 3% in the US. The prices tracked by Press Gazette are just the full-rate offers and do not take into account discounts which vary widely for different customers.

The rise in the price of paywalled online news comes as ad-funded news faces a crisis. Online advertising revenue was forecast to decline sharply in 2023 for news publishers, despite overall market growth.

Bloomberg‘s annual digital subscription has gone up by 50% since January 2023, from £199 to £299. A new subscriber signing up today would pay £139 for the first year, then rising to £299, for unlimited access to Bloomberg.com, its app, live Bloomberg TV and more.

Bloomberg’s rise was followed by an £80 increase at The Telegraph, up in the same period by 42% from £189 to £269.

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In percentage terms, the other major increases were at The New Statesman (up 84% from £49 to £89.99) and Mail+ (up 57% from £99 to £155.88).

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Press Gazette’s analysis of digital subscription prices ranked publishers by their full annual price, ignoring any trial or sale discounts. The prices used in this comparison were correct for a UK consumer on Friday 5 January 2024, and were compared to data from Monday 23 January 2023.

If we left your news outlet off our list and you feel they should be included, please get in touch with charlotte.tobitt@pressgazette.co.uk and we will add if appropriate.

The Financial Times remains the most expensive consumer digital news subscription in the UK or US, followed for the second year running by The Times.

A full-price annual digital subscription to the FT now costs £369, a rise of £50 or 16% since January 2023. A new subscriber can pay £329 for their first year.

The price of a digital subscription to The Times has not changed since 2023, remaining at £312. Other news outlets to have kept their subscriptions at the same price include the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Irish Times and the Belfast Telegraph.

Several outlets actually decreased their annual prices in the past year: The New European was down by 50% from £99.99 to £50, while there were also small drops seen at the New Yorker and both New York Times and sister title The Athletic.

To subscribe to every outlet in our list at full annual price would cost £3,263.61 - up 17% from £2,787.30 this time last year.

The cheapest subscription offering is £49.99 per year at the Belfast Telegraph, which has not changed its annual cost. The second cheapest subscription offering is £50 per year at The New European.

On a monthly basis, the FT was still the highest having risen from £35 to £39. Bloomberg was second highest at £29.99, above The Times on £26, both of which stayed the same since January 2023.

The lowest monthly subscription fees were offered by The Atlantic (£5.25), the Washington Post (£6) and Press & Journal (£6.99).

Last year, monthly subscriptions to all the publishers on our list would have cost £244.26. They would now cost £319.15.

Press Gazette's analysis looked only at paywalled websites, or those such as The Independent with a large amount of premium content, for newspaper brands and news/current affairs magazines.

We ignored those that are entirely free-to-read but offer something extra such as an ad-free experience to those who choose to pay.

For publishers who only offer monthly subscriptions, annual subscriptions were calculated. The same was done to monthly subscriptions if publishers only offer annual subscriptions. Prices in US dollars were converted to pound sterling were necessary.

Looking at the trials and discounts on offer this month, The Telegraph has the most significant annual discount as first-time subscribers can pay £25 for the year, saving them £244.

Bloomberg has offered a price of £180, saving first-timers £119.

However some discounts are lower than those available last year. The FT is offering a discount of £40, down from £369 to £329, but its January 2023 offer had a discount of £160, down from £319 to £159.

The Irish Times, Belfast Telegraph and The Atlantic do not currently appear to be offering discounts.

In December Press Gazette ranked the top paywalled news subscriptions across the largest English-language publishers by number of subscribers.

Combined, the publishers had over 39.5 million digital subscribers after an increase resulting from growth in the second half of 2023 at certain titles, and the addition of some new names to the list.

Like others, The New York Times increased its monthly fee this year but The New York Times Company nonetheless added 210,000 net new digital subscribers in the quarter to September. It now has more than 10 million subscribers across digital and print and 9.4 million in digital only.

Correction: This article originally gave a January 2024 annual price for The Spectator of £156, calculated by extrapolating the monthly price. However the magazine offers an annual subscription for £131.99. This makes its annual % change 33%, not 58% as previously reported.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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