Now in the News: More Publishers Adopt 4-Week Subscription Billing Cycles

April 28, 2023

More Publishers Adopt 4-Week Subscription Billing Cycles

A growing number of publishers are using 4-week billing cycles instead of calendar months in order to extract additional revenue from their subscriber bases. Four-week (or 28-day) billing cycles enable publishers to charge subscribers 13 times per year instead of 12, which equates to 8% additional revenue on an annualized basis. It’s an approach currently being used by major news publishers including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

Toolkits examined the 100 largest U.S. publisher sites currently selling digital subscription products on either a 4-week or a monthly basis and found that 34% of those publishers use 4-week billing periods, up from 20% for the same group a year ago.

Subscription teams are under increased pressure to maximize revenues as challenging economic conditions persist and revenue from other channels – such as advertising and commerce – proves more difficult to generate. In that context, revising billing cycles and subscription terms to eke out additional revenue could be viewed as low-hanging fruit

News/Media Alliance Applauds California Committee On Privacy And Consumer Protection For Voting In Favor Of California Journalism Preservation Act

Tuesday night, at a hearing of the California State Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, members voted 9-0 in favor of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA, AB 886).

The bill, which was introduced by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) in March, would require Big Tech platforms such as Facebook and Google to pay news publishers a “journalism usage fee” to use local news content. Currently, creators of quality journalism are not adequately compensated for the use of their content that takes a tremendous investment to produce, and therefore, cannot reinvest enough in journalists and newsrooms.

The CJPA would also promote the hiring of more journalists, requiring news publishers to invest 70 percent of the profits from the usage fee into journalism jobs.

News/Media Alliance Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Danielle Coffey, testified at the hearing, alongside Assemblymember Wicks and Matt Pearce, representing labor unions. Coffey stated, “We applaud Assemblymember Wicks and the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee for recognizing the value of high-quality journalism and the need for journalism providers to be compensated fairly for the use of their content by the tech platforms. We are very happy with the outcome of the hearing in California, and we look forward to next steps as the bill moves forward.”

The Alliance has been vocally advocating for such legislation at the federal level since 2018. The Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA), which was reintroduced in the 117th Congress (S. 673 and H.R. 1735), passed through Senate Judiciary Committee markup in September and nearly passed into law in December before the Congress ended. Senate Antitrust Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator John N. Kennedy (R-LA) reintroduced the JCPA, which has strong bipartisan support, in the Senate (S. 1094) on March 31.

Coffey added, “The dominant tech platforms reap the vast majority of the online revenue at news publishers’ expense. If balance isn’t restored to the marketplace, we will continue to see local newspapers closing at the same alarming rate, leaving bigger and bigger news deserts that encourage misinformation, confusion and corruption to dominate, threatening democracy and our constitutional right to a free press.

As Most Of Maine’s Newspapers Go Up For Sale, A New Nonprofit Enters The Mix To Buy Them

The owner of Masthead Maine, which encompasses 30 news outlets in the state, is looking to sell his modest empire, casting uncertainty on the future of the bulk of Maine’s local news ecosystem

As soon as a Maine media mogul announced plans to sell his modest newspaper empire, a potential local buyer mobilized to snap it up. Longtime Maine journalist Bill Nemitz said Sunday that his new nonprofit, the Maine Journalism Foundation, would be throwing its hat in the ring to acquire Masthead Maine, the group that encompasses five daily newspapers and 25 weekly publications in the Pine Tree State.

This move follows last month’s announcement by Masthead Maine owner Reade Brower that he is looking to offload his media holdings or bring on another investor, casting uncertainty on the future of the bulk of Maine’s local news ecosystem. Brower’s group owns all but one of the state’s daily newspapers and many of its larger weeklies.