The 100k Club: News websites with most subscriptions ranked

100k Club: Top English-language news publishers reach 28m paying online readers

At least 30 English-language news publishers and publications now have 100,000 digital subscribers or more, Press Gazette research today shows.

Our 100k Club ranking finds that these news companies have more than 28m paid online subscriptions between them – potentially worth more than $6bn a year in revenues.

However, after a bumper 2020, growth has slowed this year for several publishers, thanks in part to waning interest in Covid-19 and US politics.

The New York Times’ latest digital-only subscription number, 7.6m as of the end of September, is up 25% over the past year. The equivalent figure from September 2020, 6.1m, was itself up 50% on the previous year.

The Wall Street Journal is up 19% over the past year, compared with a growth rate of 27% between September 2019 and September 2020.

Newsletter platform Substack is the fastest growing title and now claims 1m paying subscribers, up 400% on December last year. Its top ten writers are said to make $20m per year, with Substack taking 10% of revenue from its contributors.

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In an interview with Press Gazette, the Boston Globe’s vice president for consumer revenue, Tom Brown, reveals that his title’s digital-only subscriber total has inched up around 1%, from 223,000 to 225,000, over the past year.

However, he explains that the Globe is satisified with this performance because it was preparing for a large hit from Covid-era readers giving up on their subscriptions at the end of promotional periods.

By early 2021, the Globe’s digital subs total had fallen to around 216,000, but it has since bounced back to more than 225,000. The Globe is also expecting a 30% jump in digital subscriber revenues this year.

Last week, in a separate interview with Press Gazette, Bloomberg Media’s chief executive, Justin B Smith, revealed that the business website has not gained as many subscribers this year as previously forecast.

“We are not going to hit 400,000,” he told Press Gazette, explaining that Bloomberg Media currently has around 350,000 subscribers. “And the reason for that in fact is that we’ve seen, post the Trump era and post the January 6 insurrection, there’s been a significant downturn in the news cycle. So we’ve seen flatter traffic across this year than we’ve historically seen.”

However, like the Globe, Bloomberg Media is upbeat. Smith described subscriptions as a “nine-figure business, with revenue up 80% over the previous year”.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is another title that has experienced a headline slowdown over the past 12 months, with near-flat growth.

But Steve Yaeger, chief marketing officer and SVP of circulation, told Press Gazette how “we have increased subscriptions to Premium Digital Access, our core offering, by 16% in the last year, while we have been managing other, less profitable subscription types down.”

Digital news subscription rankings

The 100k Club league table below ranks news publishers/ publications by their digital-only subscriber numbers. Most, but not all, figures have been updated since our first ranking in December 2020. Where publishers do not provide digital-only subscription numbers, we make this clear.

The figures for news-focused magazines – the Economist, the Atlantic, the New Yorker, National Geographic and Wired – come from their circulation certificates, provided by ABC in the UK or the Alliance for Audited Media in the US. The figures of some titles, including these magazines, include readership on Apple News+ and other third-party platforms.

Press Gazette plans to regularly update this research with new figures and add new publications and publishers as they pass the 100,000 mark. If you know of any other publishers that should be included in this ranking, please let us know by emailing william.turvill@pressgazette.co.uk.

1. The New York Times 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 7.6m (September 2021)

Year-on-year change: +25% from 6.1m (September 2020)

The New York Times remains the global news industry’s digital subscriptions trailblazer.

The company announced last week that it now has more than one million digital subscribers outside of the United States.

The NYT’s biggest international markets are Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany.

Read more: How the New York Times defied ‘scepticism’ to build digital subscriptions powerhouse

2. The Washington Post 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 3m (November 2020)

Year-on-year change: N/A (no update)

Owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post has built up a large collection of digital subscribers and is thought to be second only to the New York Times.

Like the Times, the Post sees opportunity outside of the US. The title opened new hubs in London and Seoul earlier this year to accelerate international subscription growth.

As a privately-owned company, the Washington Post does not regularly release digital subscriber numbers.

Read more: Washington Post plans to use new London hub to accelerate international subscription growth

3. The Wall Street Journal 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 2.8m (September 2021)

Year-on-year change: +19% from 2.4m (September 2020)

The Wall Street Journal’s paywall dates back to the year of its website’s launch – 1996.

The Journal today faces digital subs competition from the Financial Times and Bloomberg, both of which are growing fast.

Reuters also wants to launch a digital subscriptions business but is currently being held back amid a dispute with financial data provider Refinitiv.

Read more: How the Wall Street Journal used subscriptions ‘science’ to sign up 350,000 new online subscribers in 2020

4. Gannett 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 1.5m (September 2021)

Year-on-year change: +50% from 1m (September 2020)

Gannett owns USA Today and hundreds of local newspaper brands across the US and UK (through its British subsidiary, Newsquest).

Its local titles in the US make up for most of its digital subscribers, with USA Today having only recently launched its paywall.

Last week, on an analyst call to mark Gannett’s latest quarterly results, chief executive Michael Reed hinted that the company may seek to introduce paywalls to UK sites in the future.

Asked about Newsquest’s online performance, Reed said: “I think their digital strategy is actually more early stage than here in the US right now. In the US, about 20%, 21% of consumers are willing to pay for digital news online. And in the UK, it’s a little bit less than 10%.

“So I think that the upside for the UK on the digital side, both the Digital Marketing Solutions segment as well as digital subscriber growth, there’s more upside there. They’re not as far along as what we see here in the US.”

Read more: Covid comeback – News Corp, NYT, Gannett, DMGT, Reach and Future market caps surpass pre-pandemic heights

5. The Athletic 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 1.2m (May 2021)

Year-on-year change: +20% from 1m (September 2020)

Founded in 2015, the Athletic has quickly established itself as a popular sports news subscription site in the US and UK. The company is currently reported to be seeking a buyer and values itself at more than $750m.

6. Substack 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 1m (November 2021)

Year-on-year change: +400%  from 250,000 (December 2020)

Substack has become home to numerous high-profile journalists in recent years, including Glenn Greenwald and Bari Weiss.

Note: We updated Substack’s total figure retrospectively after the company announced it had hit 1m subscribers on 15 November, four days after this ranking was published. Previously, its figure was listed as 500,000, as disclosed in February 2021. Ordinarily, we would not have updated this figure, but chose to do so on this occasion because of Substack’s significant growth since early 2021.

Read more: The original Substacker: How China expert Bill Bishop built a six-figure newsletter business

7. Weather Channel 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 1m (November 2021)

Year-on-year change: N/A (new entrant)

A new entrant to our ranking, the Weather Channel – owned by tech giant IBM – is “nearing 1m” subscribers, a spokesperson told Press Gazette.

For $4.99 a month or $29.99 a year, premium subscribers to the app receive “enhanced content, such as videos and graphics, coupled with data that digs deeper” into weather news.

Paying readers also have access to eight-day forecasts (non-subscribers only see two-day forecasts) and can avoid seeing adverts on the Weather Channel website and app.

8. Financial Times 🇬🇧

Latest figure: 987,000

Year-on-year change: +4% from 945,000 (September 2020)

The London-headquartered Financial Times first launched its digital subscription business in 2001.

Some 20 years on, and it is now on course to become the first British title to top 1m digital subscribers (although many of its paying readers are based in the US and elsewhere).

Read more: How the FT and Times built successful subscription websites

9. The Economist 🇬🇧

Latest figure: 964,518 (June 2021)

Year-on-year change: +21% from 795,878 (June 2020)

The Economist is headquartered in the UK, but the majority of its digital audience is based in North America.

According to the title’s ABC certificate for the first half of 2021, the Economist’s digital edition has an average circulation of 964,518.

Some 521,480 editions were purchased in North America, compared with 161,690 in the UK.

Read more: The Economist grows subscribers by 9% to 1.1m in 2020/21 and pays back furlough cash

10. The Guardian 🇬🇧

Latest figure: 961,000 (July 2021)

Year-on-year change: +7% from 900,000 (November 2020)

The London-headquartered Guardian is the only publication in our ranking that has an entirely free website.

Its figure, 961,000, includes 560,000 “recurring contributions” from readers who want to support the newsgroup, and 401,000 digital subscriptions to the Guardian’s premium apps.

Read more: Guardian digital reader revenue climbs during pandemic year with half from outside UK

11. News Corp Australia 🇦🇺

Latest figure: 897,000 (September 2021)

Year-on-year change: +31% from 685,200 (September 2020)

The Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media giant publishes the Australian, the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph, among other titles.

12. Medium 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 725,000 (March 2021)

Year-on-year change: N/A (new entrant)

A new addition to our ranking, Medium is a blog-hosting site that dates back to 2012. Axios reported in March that the company claims to have around 725,000 paid subscribers.

13. Barron’s Group (including MarketWatch, Financial News and Private Equity News) 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 723,000 (September 2021)

Year-on-year change: +29% from 560,000 (September 2020)

Part of News Corp’s Dow Jones, the Barron’s Group includes investment title Barron’s, MarketWatch, Financial News and Private Equity News.

14. The Telegraph 🇬🇧

Latest figure: 500,000 (October 2021)

Year-on-year change: +49% from 335,399 (October 2020)

One of the fastest-growing publishers in the 100k Club, the Telegraph recently reported that it had surpassed 500,000 digital subscribers.

The Telegraph publishes its print and digital subscription figures, audited and independently assured by PWC, each month. The company also publishes a PWC-calculated ARPS (average net revenue per subscription) figure every month. In September, the Telegraph’s ARPS, for print and digital, was £178.99.

Read more: Telegraph CEO Nick Hugh on how digital subs are safeguarding future of 165-year-old news brand

15. The Los Angeles Times 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 460,000 (November 2021)

Year-on-year change: +18% from 391,345 (December 2020)

The LA Times says it has around 300,000 direct-paid digital subscribers and a further 160,000 paid online readers who come through third parties, such as Apple News+.

16. Tribune Publishing 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 436,000 (December 2020)

Year-on-year change: N/A (no update)

Owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital since May, Tribune publishes titles including the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The company has not released digital subscriber figures since the Alden takeover.

17. The Times, Sunday Times and Times Literary Supplement 🇬🇧

Latest figure: 380,000 (September 2021)

Year-on-year change: +11% from 342,000 (September 2020)

The Times and Sunday Times website went behind a paywall in 2010. News Corp recently started including the TLS digital subs figures in its Times total.

Read more: Ten years of the Times digital paywall – How Murdoch’s ‘big gamble’ paid off

18. The Atlantic 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 357,373 (June 2021)

Year-on-year change: +119% from 163,065 (June 2020)

Founded in 1857, the Atlantic launched its paywall in 2019. Over the past year, it has been the fastest-growing title on the 100k Club list, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificates.

In the first half of 2021, the Atlantic had an average digital circulation of 357,373. The majority of these sales (294,881) came through individual subscriptions, while the Atlantic had an average Apple News+ circulation of 61,078.

Overall, the Atlantic has more than 750,000 subscribers who have access to its paywalled website. This figure includes print subscribers, print-plus-digital subscribers and digital-only subscribers.

Read more: US magazine circulations – America’s largest titles retained 95% of sales through Covid-19

19. Bloomberg Media 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 350,000 (November 2021)

Year-on-year change: +40% from 250,000 (November 2020)

In a recent interview with Press Gazette, Bloomberg Media chief executive Justin B Smith admitted subscriptions growth has been hit this year by “a significant downturn in the news cycle”.  Still, Bloomberg Media’s digital subscriptions have grown 40% over the past year.

Read more: Business booms for Bloomberg Media thanks to ad ‘windfall’ and 350,000 subs

20. Lee Enterprises 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 337,000 (June 2021)

Year-on-year change: +52% from 222,000 (June 2020)

Lee Enterprises is a local news publisher covering 77 US markets. Its titles include the Arizona Daily Sun, the St Louis Post-Dispatch and Tulsa World.

21. The New Yorker 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 324,710 (June 2021)

Year-on-year change: +34% from 241,723 (June 2020)

Conde Nast’s New Yorker had an average weekly digital circulation of 324,710 in the first half of 2021, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

22. McClatchy 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 299,000 (December 2020)

Year-on-year change: N/A (no update)

Acquired by Chatham Asset Management in September 2020, McClatchy publishes titles including the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star and the Sacramento Bee.

23. Insider Inc 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 250,000 (February 2021)

Year-on-year change: +25% from 200,000 (January 2020)

In February this year, Insider chief executive Henry Blodget told Press Gazette the company had reached 250,000 subscribers. In addition to the Insider website, the Axel Springer-owned firm also has B2B operations.

Read more: Why is Insider still thriving? Because we didn’t try to be Disney, says CEO Henry Blodget

24. National Geographic 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 244,454 (June 2021)

Year-on-year change: +72% from 142,074 (June 2020)

National Geographic had an average digital issue circulation of 244,454 per month in the first half of 2021, according to its latest Alliance for Audited Media certificate.

25. Boston Globe 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 225,000 (October 2021)

Year-on-year change: +1% from 223,000 (September 2020)

In an interview with Press Gazette published today, Tom Brown – the Globe’s vice president for consumer revenue – explains how subscription growth has slowed this year following a bumper 2020.

However, he makes clear that the company is satisfied with its performance and the fact that most Covid-era subscribers have remained with the Globe.

26. Globe and Mail 🇨🇦

Latest figure: 199,400 (November 2021)

Year-on-year change: N/A (new entrant)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s only title on the 100k Club ranking.

Read more: How a robot called Sophi helped Canada’s Globe and Mail hit 170,000 digital subscribers – CEO interview

27. Wired 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 168,534 (June 2021)

Year-on-year change: +18% from 142,269 (June 2020)

Wired, published by Conde Nast, had an average digital circulation of 168,534 in the first half of 2021, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

28. Minneapolis Star Tribune 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 101,911 (September 2021)

Year-on-year change: +0% from 101,775 (December 2020)

Like the Boston Globe, the Minneapolis Star Tribune has seen its growth slow in 2021. But the news publisher says it is unconcerned.

Steve Yaeger, chief marketing officer and SVP of circulation, told Press Gazette: “As of close of September we have 101,911 subscribers paying for digital access. That is an increase of 1.9% over September 2020.

“However, we have increased subscriptions to Premium Digital Access, our core offering, by 16% in the last year, while we have been managing other, less profitable subscription types down.

“Thus the overall digital subscription % change looks softer than it really is. We are right on target for our 2021 volume plans.”

29. Investor’s Business Daily 🇺🇸

Latest figure: 100,000 (September 2021)

Year-on-year change: N/A (new entrant)

Recently acquired by News Corp, IBD currently has around 100,000 digital-only subscribers.

30. ACM 🇦🇺

Latest figure: 100,000 (August 2021)

Year-on-year change: N/A (new entrant)

Australian news publisher ACM – which owns the Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald and the Border Mail – announced that it had passed 100,000 digital subscribers in August this year.


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