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April 6, 2023updated 07 Dec 2023 3:54pm

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

Press Gazette's 100k Club finds almost 35m digital news subscriptions across the largest English-language publishers.

By Aisha Majid

The world’s largest English-language news publishers now have almost 35 million digital subscriptions between them, research from Press Gazette shows.

Top of the table again are US titles The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which count over 12 million subscriptions between them. 

Behind them, New York Times-owned The Athletic, Washington Post, local news giant Gannett and Substack top two million subscribers, while a further four names including the Weather Channel, The Guardian, News Corp Australia and the Financial Times have at least one million. 

Overall, 37 publishers and news brands from the US, UK, Canada and Australia feature in this edition of the 100k Club which is the fifth 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 29 publishers on our list.

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While the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have had a paywall in place for over a decade, other entrants on our list such as Harvard Business Review have seen impressive growth in a short time. The 100-year-old publisher has already topped 100,000 subscriptions despite only implementing a digital paywall in 2019.

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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. This will move large publishers up the ranking.

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

We also have data for some names for the first time. These include titles such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, New Zealand Herald and Mail Plus which has crossed the 100,000 threshold mark since our last ranking, as well as publishers and brands such as Readly, Fortune and Time not included in previous editions of the ranking. 

1 – The New York Times: 8.8m

The New York Times is the industry’s preeminent example of success in digital subscriptions.

The New York Times Company reported a 27% year-on-year increase in revenue from digital subscriptions and 8,830,000 digital-only subscribers as of the end of December 2022.  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.

In early 2022 the New York Times acquired popular word game Wordle, which the company says reflects the growing importance of games in its quest to hit 10 million digital subscriptions by 2025.

According to the company, 2022 was its second best year for net digital subscriber additions which said that its strategy of bundling together news and lifestyle products has continued to pay off. 

We also report separately on The Athletic, which The NYT bought for $550m in January 2022. (See entry below).

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2022

2 – The Wall Street Journal: 3.2m

The Wall Street Journal, one of the first major newsbrands to go behind a paywall in the mid-1990s, continues to grow its paying audience. The News Corp-owned business title passed the 3 million digital-only subscription mark in 2022 and has increased its lead over the Washington Post in our ranking. 

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2022

3 – The Athletic: 2.7m

Bought by The New York Times Company in January last year, The Athletic had just over 1 million subscribers at the time of acquisition. It has since more than doubled that figure to reach 2,680,000 subscribers as per the latest New York Times Company earning release. 

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2022

4 – The Washington Post: 2.5m

The Washington Post, privately owned by Jeff Bezos, has lost subscribers since the last edition of our 100k Club ranking. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Post has lost 500,000 subscribers since Biden took office in January 2021 as the title has reportedly suffered due to a slower news agenda post-Trump. Despite haemorrhaging subscribers, it remains the fourth-largest English-language title in terms of paid digital readership. 

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

5 – Gannett: 2m

Publishing giant Gannett owns hundreds of local US titles, USA Today and UK regional publisher Newsquest, which it bought in 1999. Gannett reports having two million subscribers across its American news sites. 

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2022

6 – Substack: 2m

Newsletter platform Substack now has more than 35 million monthly active subscribers, including two million paid subscriptions. Prominent journalists who have used Substack include Glenn Greenwald, former New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss and Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias. Entire news publications including the Manchester Mill also use Substack. The platform’s top te writers globally are believed to make some $25m annually.

Source and date of figure: spokesperson November 2023

7 – News Corp Australia: 1m 

News Corp’s Australian division includes The Australian, The Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph. As of the end of December 2022, it reported having 1,011,000 digital subscribers, up 11% on the same month last year.

Source and date of figure:  Quarterly earnings, December 2022

8 – 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. IBM recently launched a number of bundles where subscribers can pair their Weather Channel digital subscription with another subscription, including to USA Today. 

Source and date of figure: Company spokesperson, March 2023

9 – The Guardian: 1m

The Guardian’s latest 2021/2022 results revealed that the company had reached more than one million “recurring digital supporters” as of March 2022 for its free to read journalism. Just under half (48%) of the publisher’s recurring and one-off digital contributors are UK-based.

Source and date of figure: Press release, March 2022

10 – Financial Times: 1m

 The company passed the 1 million digital subscribers mark in 2022. A recent Press Gazette analysis found that The Financial Times is the most expensive consumer digital news subscription in the UK or US, with a full-price digital subscription to the FT priced at £319 a year.

Source and date of figure: Press release, March 2022

11 – Dow Jones (excluding The Wall Street Journal): 972k

Also owned by News Corp, there were 972,000 digital-only subscribers to Dow Jones. This excludes subscribers to its biggest title, The Wall Street Journal, which is reported above separately. Dow Jones titles include Barron’s, Market Watch, Financial News, Private Equity News and Investor’s Business Daily.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2022

12 – Medium: 725k

The online publishing platform which was set up by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams counted 725,000 subscriptions as of March 2021, up from 400,000 in 2019, according to Axios. The company did not respond to Press Gazette’s request for an updated figure. 

Source and date of figure: Axios, March 2021

13 – The Economist: 616k

The Economist reported 1,185,000 digital subscriptions as per its 2022 annual report. Just under half are digital and print subscriptions, however, the company reported that 52% are digital-only, which is the figure we have used for this ranking. In its annual roundup the company noted that 66% of new subscribers sign-ups were digital-only, up 12% on 2021. 

Source and date of figure: Annual report, December 2022

14 – The Telegraph: 587k

The Telegraph has seen rapid growth in its digital subscriptions business having grown to 586,867 paying readers in December, up 75% on the 335,000 digital-only subscriptions it had two years ago in October 2020. As of December 2022, the London-based publisher counted four times as many digital-only subscriptions as print.

Source and date for figure: Press release, December 2022

15 – Lee Enterprises: 564k

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. Last year, Lee fended off a takeover  bid from Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known for slashing costs at its newsroom acquisitions.  

Source and date for figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2022

16 – The Los Angeles Times: 500k

The Los Angeles Times, is America’s largest metropolitan daily newspaper and the largest digital subscription news business on the west coast. The title has not updated its public digital subscription number since the last edition of this ranking, only telling Press Gazette that the number is upwards of 500,000. The figure includes its circulation on Apple News+.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, March 2023

17 – The Times, Sunday Times and TLS: 489k

News UK division, The Times, Sunday Times and Times Literary Supplement had 489,000 digital subscribers between them in December 2022. Last year the publisher told Press Gazette that The Times gained an average of 1,000 new digital subscribers a day during the first two weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one of its highest ever growth rates.

Source and date of figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2022

18 – Readly: 452k

Swedish-based magazine and newspaper reading app, Readly has grown its paying subscriber base by some 60% since 2019 to reach 452,466 people. Around 1,200 publishes worldwide have partnered with Readly to provide content.

Source and data of figure: Annual report, December 2022

19 – Bloomberg Media: 450k

In the five years since it launched the Bloomberg.com paywall, the publication has amassed 450,000 subscribers globally. It hopes to reach more than a half-million subscribers in the first half of 2023. 

Source and date for figure: Press release, February 2023

20 – Tribune Publishing: 436k

An Alden Global Capital acquisition, Tribune Publishing’s titles include Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, The Baltimore Sun and the Orlando Sentinel. Since the acquisition in May 2021 Tribune has not reported any financial or subscription figures. 

Source and date for figure: Quarterly earnings, December 2020

21 – Insider: 370k

A company spokesperson from Axel Springer-owned Insider told Press Gazette this month that its total subscriptions are currently at 370,000 across its consumer-facing site and Insider Intelligence, This is up 20,000 from the last edition of the 100k Club in mid-last year.  

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, March 2023

22 – Hearst Newspapers: 370k

According to US media trade title, Editor and Publisher, Hearst has around 370,000 digital-only subscribers to its news division. Hearst Newspapers includes 24 daily and 52 weekly newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, Connecticut Media Group and The San Francisco Chronicle which alone was reported to have 140,000 paying digital readers. The figure presented here is an estimate based on a visualisation in E&P as Hearst did not respond to our request for a figure.

23 – The Atlantic: 348k

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

The Atlantic had an average digital circulation of 348,126 in the second half of 2022, according to its latest Alliance for Audited Media certificate. An additional Apple News+ circulation of 80,807 is not included in this figure. The longstanding magazine title recently launched a dynamic paywall that offers varying subscription prices in a bid to attract1 million print and digital subscribers by the end of 2024.

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2022

24 – The New Yorker: 341k

In the second half of 2022, The New Yorker’s average digital circulation was 341,407 according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. The figure excludes an Apple News+ circulation of around 41,268. 

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2022

25 – McClatchy: 299k

We do not have an updated figure for McClatchy, a local news publisher whose titles include the Sacramento Bee. In 2021, the company told Press Gazette that it had 299,000 digital subscribers. 

Source and date for figure: Company source, December 2020

26 – The Boston Globe: 255k

The Boston Globe has one of the most successful digital subscription businesses in local news in the US. According to experts, the east coast title is one of the leaders in this space as the company has long invested in the newsroom and been committed to digital subscriptions for a long time. 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, September 2022

27 – National Geographic: 244k

National Geographic had an average digital circulation of 243,979 in the second half of 2022, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. The figure excludes an Apple News+ circulation of 102,845.

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2022

28 – Time: 240k

American news magazine, Time had a digital circulation of 239,737 in the second half of 2022, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. An additional 56,552 subscribers come from Apple News+ (not included in our total).

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2022

29 – The Globe and Mail: 218k

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s largest national newspaper. Part of its digital subscriptions success is down to its own subs-building AI technology, Sophi, which presents readers with dynamic paywall options based on their likely propensity to pay. According to a spokesperson, the title now has around 218,000 digital-only subscriptions, excluding Apple News+.

Source and date for figure: Company spokesperson, March 2023

30 – Fortune: 164k

Business title Fortune had a digital circulation of 164,464 in the second half of 2022, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. An additional 35,803 subscribers come from Apple News+ (not included in our total).

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2022

31- Mail Plus: 152k

The Daily Mail’s enhanced digital offering counts 152,494 paid subscribers according to its figures shared with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Mail Plus first launched in 2013 as a digital page-turning edition of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, but has since upgraded its offering to also include an interactive website-style format along with extra digital content.

Source and date of figure: Audit Bureau of Circulations, January 2023

32- Harvard Business Review: 116k

Harvard Business Review has amassed 116,000 digital subscribers, three 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.

Source and date of figure: Ad Week, November 2022

33 – New Zealand Herald: 113k

New Zealand’s newspaper of record announced in its 2022 results that it had amassed 113,000 digital subscribers as of the end of 2022.

Source and date of figure: Annual report, December 2022

34 – Wired: 109k

Technology title Wired had a digital circulation of 109,207 in the second half of 2022, according to its Alliance for Audited Media certificate. An additional 55,689 subscribers come from Apple News+ (not included in our total).

Source and date for figure: AAM, July-December 2022

35 – Australian Community Media: 100k

ACM owns The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald and Border Mail. In 2021, it announced that it had surpassed 100,000 digital subscribers. The company has not provided an updated figure to Press Gazette.

Source and date for figure: Press release, August 2021

36 – Minneapolis Star Tribune: 100k

Longstanding Minneapolis title The Star Tribune had 100,000 digital subscribers as reported by WAN-IFRA earlier this year. The title, which is the third largest metro daily newspaper in the US implemented its paywall in 2011.

Source and date for figure: WAN-IFRA, January 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.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
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  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
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  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments 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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