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December 7, 2023updated 11 Dec 2023 11:05am

100k Club: Exclusive ranking of world’s top paywalled news publishers

Press Gazette's 100k Club finds over 39 million digital news subscriptions across the largest English-language publishers

By Aisha Majid

The world’s largest English-language news publishers now have over 39.5 million digital subscribers between them, research from Press Gazette shows.

Some of that increase is due to continued growth over the past six months in subscriber numbers at titles such as The Daily Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times and The Athletic. Some is from the addition of new names to our ranking as we continue to unearth further figures on the news publishers with the most subscribers.

Top of the table is the The New York Times which has added 210,000 digital-only subscribers in just three months bringing it to 9.4 million subscribers. This is more than twice as many as fellow New York Times Company property, The Athletic which counted 4.2 million subscribers in September. The Athletic’s subscriber growth means that it has leapfrogged News Corp’s Wall Street Journal (3.5 million subscribers), which has dropped down into third place.

Behind them, the Washington Post, local news giant Gannett and Substack likely top two million subscribers. We have not however, seen new figures for the Washington Post since 2021 when the publisher was reportedly shedding subscribers. Its current total is therefore unknown.

Us Weekly, the rest of Dow Jones titles, News Corp Australia, Weather Channel, The Guardian and the Financial Times meanwhile have at least one million subscribers. Us Weekly is a new addition into our ranking.

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Consumer champion, Which? makes a first entry in joint 19th place with 500,000 digital-only subscribers, while Australia’s Nine Entertainment also makes a debut in the 100k Club in 21st position with 460,000 digital-only subscribers.

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Overall, 37 publishers and news brands from the US, UK, Canada and Australia feature in this edition of the 100k Club which is the sixth iteration of Press Gazette’s ranking of the world’s largest English-language news publishers by digital-only subscriptions.

We have updated or first-time figures for 30 publishers on our list.

While many figures on our list pertain to individual titles, in some cases figures are reported at the publisher level only, often for the purpose of shareholders. While this will move large publishers up the ranking, in most cases a breakdown by title is not available.

The updated list features exclusive new figures for several publishers, including Business Insider and Globe and Mail.

Tribune Publishing Company and McClatchy do not appear in this version of the ranking despite previously counting over 100,000 digital subscribers as we have removed publishers who have not reported new data since mid-2021 from the ranking.

Biggest paywalled news websites in the world:

1 – The New York Times Company: 9.4m

The New York Times is the industry’s preeminent example of success in digital subscriptions. In November, the Gray Lady crossed 10 million subscribers (including print) and the company says that it is on its way to its goal of 15 million by the end of 2027.

The New York Times Company reported a 13% year-on-year increase in revenue from digital-only subscriptions, adding a net 210,000 digital-only subscribers in the quarter to September 2023. This includes people with a paid digital-only subscription to one or more of the company’s news products, The Athletic, Games, Cooking and Wirecutter.

The Athletic, which The NYT bought for $550m in January 2022, had just over 1 million subscribers at the time of acquisition. It has since more than quadrupled that figure to reach 4.2 million subscribers as per the latest New York Times Company earning release.

Despite subscriber growth (and introduction of advertising), the sports title continues to operate at a loss, although quarterly revenue grew 46% year-on-year. At the time of purchase The New York Times Company said that it expected that it would take around three years for The Athletic to turn a profit.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, September 2023

2 – The Wall Street Journal: 3.5m

The Wall Street Journal was one of the first major newsbrands to go behind a paywall in the mid-1990s. Despite losing its long-held second place spot in our ranking, the business and finance-focused title nevertheless continues to grow its paying audience.

WSJ is the largest constituent of Dow Jones, a News Corp-owned financial news company which also publishes The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Market Watch, Mansion Global, Financial News and Private Equity News.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, September 2023

3 – The Washington Post: 2.5m

It has been two years since we have been able to report a new figure for The Washington Post. The publisher which is privately owned by Jeff Bezos was reported by the WSJ in October 2021 to have lost some 500,000 subscribers since Biden took office in January of the same year.

Last year the company announced it was reorganising its audience strategy and growth teams to grow its audience. Since the company does not report subscriber numbers, we cannot tell how far this approach has paid off.

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

4 – Gannett: 2m

After a small decline in the number of subscribers in the first two quarters of 2023, the US publishing giant saw subscriptions grow again in the latest quarter (up 0.7% quarter-on-quarter) to reach 1.96 million. This is just shy of the 2 million the company reported at the end of 2022.

Gannett owns hundreds of local US titles, USA Today and UK regional publisher Newsquest, which it bought in 1999.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, September 2023

5 – Substack: 2m

Newsletter platform Substack announced earlier this year that it had passed 20 million monthly active subscribers, including two million paid subscriptions.

Recent analysis by Press Gazette estimated that the 27 highest-earning email newsletters on the platform generate at least $22m a year in revenue.

Source and date of figure: Company announcement, February 2023

6 – Us Weekly: 1.7m

Us Weekly is a new entrant on our list, which we have broadened this time to include major celebrity and entertainment news titles. The US title has the biggest paid digital circulation among US magazines according to the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM). National Enquirer owner, American Media purchased Us Weekly in 2017.

Source and date for figure: AAM, January-June 2023

7 – Dow Jones (excluding The Wall Street Journal): 1.2m

The remaining Dow Jones titles excluding the Wall Street Journal reported steady subscriptions growth in the quarter to September 2023. The company sold off most of its index business, publishers of the well known Dow Jones Industrial Average, in 2010.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, September 2023

8 – News Corp Australia: 1m

News Corp’s Australian division includes The Australian, The Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph. As of the end of September 2023, it reported having 1,049,000 digital subscribers, up 4% on the same time last year.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, September 2023

9 – Weather Channel: 1m

Owned by IBM, the Weather Channel’s premium digital subscription gives readers access to enhanced forecast and weather data. In March this year, the company told Press Gazette that it had upwards of one million subscribers but has not provided an update for this edition of the ranking.

Source and date of figure: Company spokesperson, March 2023

10 – The Guardian: 1m

Having passed the one million recurring digital supporters threshold in 2021, the Guardian Media Group (GMG) continues to grow revenue. In its latest 2022/2023 results the company revealed that its digital income was up almost 8% compared to 2022 with digital now accounting for 70% total revenues. Almost two thirds of the company’s revenue now comes from outside the UK, as GMG continues to expand its international footprint.

Source and date of figure: Press release, March 2022

11 – Financial Times: 1m

The company passed the 1 million digital subscribers mark in 2022.

Earlier this year the FT launched an app version of the FT Digital Edition, a digital replica of the print newspaper. The company says that FT Digital Edition subscriptions have nearly doubled since 2019 globally, particularly in the US.

Source and date of figure: Press release, March 2022

12 – Medium: 825k

Since 2017, Medium – part publisher, part platform – has offered a paid subscription tier. Medium, which was set up by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, counted 825,000 subscriptions according to a report in Tech Crunch in October 2023. The company told the Tech Crunch podcast that it hopes it will finally be profitable in 2024.

Source and date of figure: Tech Crunch, October 2023

13 – The Economist: 697k

While The Economist Group derives significant income from advertising, its research and other revenue streams, subscriptions made up around 60% of the company’s income in 2023. This year, the Economist reported 1,182,000 digital subscriptions, with some 60% digital subscriptions only, which is the figure we have used for this ranking. Three quarters (75%) of new subscribers sign-ups were digital-only in 2023, up from 66% in 2022.

Source and date of figure: Annual report, 2023

14 – The Telegraph: 670k

The Telegraph has had a tumultuous year after its bankers, Lloyd’s took control of the company in June after its owner, the Barclays family were unable to service more than £1bn in unpaid debt. In the latest chapter, the family has sought to regain control of the newspaper publisher helped by funding from Abu Dhabi raising potential public interest concerns for the UK government.

Despite its ownership woes, the Telegraph remains profitable and has seen rapid growth in its digital subscriptions business having grown to 669,613 paying readers in October, and it passed its stated goal of hitting 1 million subscriptions (print and digital) earlier this year.

Source and date for figure: TMG subscription numbers, October 2023

15 – Lee Enterprises: 606k

Lee Enterprises publishes dozens of daily local newspapers including The Arizona Daily Sun, The St Louis Post-Dispatch and Tulsa World as well as hundreds of weekly titles in the US, mostly in small and mid-sized markets. In June the publisher announced that digital-only subscribers were up 21% compared to the same quarter last year.

Source and date for figure: Quarterly earnings, June 2023

16 – The Times, Sunday Times and TLS: 572k

News UK division, The Times, Sunday Times and Times Literary Supplement had 572,000 digital subscribers between them in September 2023. Despite being one of the more expensive digital subscriptions in the UK £312 for a year, The Times has grown its number of subscribers in each iteration of Press Gazette’s 100k Club ranking.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, June 2023

17 – The Los Angeles Times: 550k

The Los Angeles Times, is America’s largest metropolitan daily newspaper and the largest digital subscription news business on the west coast.

According to a report in Axios earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times has 550,000 digital subscriptions, including those from third-party apps, like Apple News+, more than twice the 250,000 digital subscriptions reported in late 2020.

Source and date for figure: Axios, March 2023

18 – Bloomberg Media: 500k

Five years after it launched the Bloomberg.com paywall, the publication passed a milestone this October amassing 500,000 subscribers globally, including people who are signed-up through Apple News+.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, November 2023

18 – Which?: 500k

Consumer champion Which? reports around 500,000 digital-only subscribers. Its subscriptions business helps fund its consumer protection advocacy and information work. Subscribers pay for access to all the editorial content produced by the which editorial team and for its vast archive of up-to-date reviews covering everything from dishwashers to used cars.

Source and date of figure: Company spokesperson, December 2023

20 – Readly: 461k

Swedish magazine and newspaper reading app, Readly continues to grow its paying subscriber base. Subscribers were up 3% quarter-on-quarter in the third of 2023 to 460,686. The digital subscription service has partnered with over 1,200 publishers and offers users access to more than 7,600 magazines and newspapers.

Source and data of figure: Third quarter report, September 2023

21 – Nine Entertainment: 460k

Another new name on our list as Press Gazette seeks to expand the reach of our ranking, Australian media giant Nine Entertainment operates in television, streaming, publishing and radio. The company publishes a number of well-known Australian titles including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review and digital-only subscriptions to its titles stand at 460,000.

Source and date for figure: Interim report, June 2023

22 – The New Yorker: 404k

In the first half of 2023, The New Yorker’s average digital circulation was 403,704 according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. The figure excludes an Apple News+ circulation of 56,282.

Source and date for figure: AAM, January-June 2023

23 – The Atlantic: 379k

The Atlantic had an average digital circulation of 379,105 in the first half of 2023, according to its latest Alliance for Audited Media certificate. CEO Nicholas Thompson told Axios in August this year that it finally hopes to become profitable in 2024. The same Axios article said that The Atlantic makes around 60% of its revenue from consumer subscriptions. The title has an additional 110,127 through Apple News+.

Source and date for figure: AAM, January-June 2023

24 – Hearst Newspapers: 370k

According to US media trade title, Editor and Publisher, Hearst had around 370,000 digital-only subscribers to its news division as of the start of this year. The figure is our estimate based on a visualisation in E&P as Hearst did not respond to our request for a figure earlier this year and has not provided us with an update this autumn.

Source and date of figure: Editor and Publisher, January 2023

25 – Business Insider: 330k

A company spokesperson from Axel Springer-owned Business Insider told Press Gazette this month that its total subscriptions are currently at 330,000 across Business Insider and Insider Intelligence.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, November 2023

26 – National Geographic: 293k

National Geographic had an average digital circulation of 292,763 in the first half of 2023, representing growth of 20% compared to the second half of 2022 according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. The figure excludes an Apple News+ circulation of 120,723.

Source and date for figure: AAM, January-June 2023

27 – The Boston Globe: 256k

The Boston Globe has one of the most successful digital subscription businesses in local news in the US, although its growth has plateaued recently – we last reported a figure of 255k the last time we published this ranking in March 2023. For over ten years, Boston Globe Media has run two websites – Boston.com, a free site that is ad-supported, and a premium, subscriber-only site BostonGlobe.com that supports its core mission of growing reader revenue.

Source and date for figure: AAM, January-June 2023

28 – Time: 255k

American news magazine, Time reported a paid digital circulation of 255,247 in the first half of 2023, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate, before removing its paywall in June. An additonal 56,354 through Apple News+ is not included here. Although it continues to still charge for a print edition, the company hopes removing its digital paywall and moving to advertising-supported content will allow it to reach a wider and younger audience.

Source and date for figure: AAM, January-June 2023

29 – The Globe and Mail: 246k

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s largest national newspaper and its audience is reportedly second only to that of the freely available national broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

According to a spokesperson, the title now has around 246,000 digital-only subscriptions, excluding Apple News+.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, November 2023

30 – Mail Plus: 160k

The Mail + which is a digital replica of the print paper first launched in 2013 as an iPad product. It has since upgraded its offering to also include an interactive website-style format along with extra digital content and currently counts 160,000 subscribers of which 90,000 are digital-only. (Mail print subscribers get access to Mail+ as part of their subscription).

Source and date of figure: Press Gazette, September 2023

31 – Wired: 144k

Technology title Wired had a digital circulation of 143,911 from January to June 2023 according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. An additional 63,052 subscribers come from Apple News+ (not included in our total). According to the company, longform reporting, Ideas essays, and issue guides helped build up its subscriber base in the first year after its introduction of paywall in 2019.

Source and date for figure: AAM, January-June 2023

32 – Fortune: 139k

Despite a fall in its subscriber base (Fortune had a digital circulation of 164,464 in the second half of 2022), Fortune maintains a spot in our 100k Club ranking with an average circulation of 138,842 in the first half of this year according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. An additional 47,172 subscribers come from Apple News+ (not included in our total).

Source and date for figure: AAM, January-June 2023

34 – Harvard Business Review: 129k

Harvard Business Review has amassed 128,905 digital subscribers, four years after launching its digital subscriptions offering in 2019. Digital subscribers make up more than one-third of the total subscriber base at the more than 100-year old publication according to company figures reported by Ad Week last November.

Source and date of figure: AAM, January-June 2023

35 – New Zealand Herald: 123k

New Zealand’s newspaper of record counts 218,000 subscribers of which 123,000 are digital-only subscriptions.

Source and date of figure: Interim report, June 2023

36 – Australian Community Media: 120k

ACM owns The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald and Border Mail and Australia’s largest publisher of regional news through a network of 140 regional, rural and suburban newspapers and websites. In 2021, it announced that it had surpassed 100,000 digital subscribers – and in a report from June 2022, the company’s executive editor, James Joyce noted that ACM had 120,000 subscribers.

Source and date for figure: Australian Digital News Report, June 2022

37 – Minneapolis Star Tribune: 100k

Longstanding Minneapolis title The Star Tribune has maintained its 100,000 digital subscribers as reported in a company press release this month detailing three new senior leadership roles in news coverage and digital strategy.

Source and date for figure: Company release, November 2023

Any more? If you know of any publishers or newsbrands that should be on our list or think that this list can be improved in any way, please email aisha.majid@ns-mediagroup.com. Our ranking is currently focused on English-language publications, but we are interested in hearing about other successful titles in this area.

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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