News from the media revenue intelligence expert


January 2022  | Mather: Insights

The Mather Report with David Clinch features a weekly blog post about all things relating to subscriptions and consumer revenue. David is Mather’s newly appointed Head of Global Partnerships and Media Revenue Intelligence expert.

SUBSCRIBE to receive our Mather Insights newsletters.

Revenue First Strategy

Reader revenue and advertising have traditionally been either parallel or, in some cases, separate strategies for media companies. That is changing as media companies of all sizes embrace a “consumer revenue” approach and a “revenue first” strategy that is carefully calibrated to optimize for revenue across both these streams and many more.

Every consumer should be able to easily access the quality content they pay for and have a great experience with the free content they want as well.

Every piece of content a media company produces can, and should, have a specific editorial and business purpose within this “revenue first” strategy and that requires harnessing the power of data at every stage of the consumer journey. Each week, I will highlight a few interesting quotes from media executives and others that relate to subscriptions and consumer revenue. 

If you have any questions or comments about these updates, please get in touch.  

Media posts of note this past week:

Hearst Newspapers plan a new data and product hub for 2022
Rick EdmondsPoynter

(Hearst Newspapers) closed the year with more than 300,000 paid digital-only subscriptions, an increase of 100,000 or 50% from the year before. It is targeting 100,000 more this year.”

The company is getting close to turning the corner to a 50-50 revenue split between audience and advertising, he said (pivoting over time from an 80%-plus reliance on ads).

Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson on paywalls, print and the pursuit of profit
William TurvillPress Gazette  

(The Atlantic) has around 750,000 subscribers, including roughly 300,000 digital-only subscribers.

My hope is that we’ll get to $50m in [reader] revenue, and if not this year, then next.” (Nicholas Thompson, CEO)

Paywall Secrets of Seattle Times
William TurvillPress Gazette  

The Seattle Times now has 81,000 digital-only subscribers, establishing its position as one of America’s leading metropolitan news titles for paid online readers.

…the Seattle Times, …has drawn much inspiration from the Boston Globe, which launched its paywall in 2011 and today has more than 220,000 digital-only subscribers.

Lee Enterprises asks investors to help fight off hedge fund
Josh Funk – AP 

Lee also told shareholders that they should have faith in the company’s current strategy to shift its publications over to online delivery because it has seen its digital-only subscriptions grow 65% over the past year to 402,000 at all of its newspapers.

Your Newspaper’s Not Making Money? Make It Permanent as a Nonprofit!
Jack ShaferPOLITICO 

Nonprofit status vanquishes the need to please stockholders with booming quarterly profits and rising share prices. It also makes most revenue — including advertising, donations and membership fees — tax-exempt as long as the nonprofit in question avoids overt commerciality.

As a novel journalistic experiment, we have no previous data upon which to base a prediction. We can only let the experiment run. No matter how it turns out, it will be an amazing story.

Paid content balance sheet 2021: Axel Springer dominates

(Translated) “Der Spiegel” and “Die Zeit” have been able to show clear growth in circulation, bucking the trend for some time now. In the last quarter, “Spiegel” had more than six, and “Zeit” even more than ten percent compared to the previous year. However, this upswing can be attributed less to new print buyers than to the rapidly increasing digital subscriptions for Spiegel+ and Zeit+, which include the respective e-papers, but also the other paid articles on the websites.

50 ways to make media pay: Paywalls
Damian Radcliffe

we’ve consistently seen outlets reducing the amount of non-paywalled content audiences can access. In late 2017, the New York Times decided to reduce the number of free articles available to “most” non-subscribers each month from 10 to five. Prior to that, in 2012, it cut the number of monthly free articles from 20 to 10. Jump ahead to 2021, and the Gray Lady is moving a number (18) of their newsletters behind their paywall.

Axios launches a premium subscription product aimed at the “dealmakers” among us
Sarah ScireNIEMAN LAB 

$600/year for one newsletter or $1,800/year for all Pro newsletters — but it’s still not priced for the casual reader. (There’s a free two-week trial, but no monthly payment option.)

“Axios, which currently has 2.4 million subscribers across 34 free newsletters, declined to say what percentage of free subscribers they hope to convert to Axios Pro subscriptions…

Can CNN’s Hiring Spree Get People to Pay for Streaming News?
John Koblin and Michael M. GrynbaumNew York Times 

…services like Fox Nation ($6 a month) and CNN+ (which has not revealed its pricing) carry a higher barrier of entry for TV news content, which is available free of charge elsewhere.

“NBC, ABC and CBS are pursuing a different strategy: free streaming news platforms supported by paid advertising. Their digital options predominantly focus on news, not lifestyle programming, and the networks have only recently taken more aggressive steps to expand the programming on offer.

AT&T CEO Throws Shade at Netflix Price Hike, Predicts HBO Max Will Recoup Amazon Losses
Jennifer MaasVariety 

Stankey also tossed a little shade at Netflix’s move earlier this month to raise the price of its standard plan — its most popular tier, which provides two simultaneous HD streams — to $15.49 per month. That move rattled some Netflix investors as it pushed passed the ceiling previously set by HBO Max. Stankey cast it as an inevitable development given the high cost of content, marketing and subscriber acquisition costs.

From FLoC to Topics: what the Google shift means for publishers
Earl J. WilkinsonINMA  

Publishers that have invested in first-party data strategies may have an enhanced competitive advantage, depending on how well developed their audience cohorts are.

Magazines see silver lining in COVID lockdowns: More glossies launched in 2021
Alexandra SteigradNY Post

New magazine launches totaled 122, up from 60 that launched in 2020…


David Clinch, Mather’s Head of Global Partnerships, can be reached at



Optimize your data. We’re here to help.

Subscribe to our newsletter!