Mather Economics predictions and latest Benchmarking Reports

Mather: News and Insights
November 16, 2022

Mather Economics Print and Digital Subscription Benchmarking Reports – September 2022

Digital makes gains over print.  Mather predicts digital-only to take over print by next year.

Download (mini version) of Mather’s September 2022 Subscriber Benchmarking Report here.

The September edition of Mather’s Print and Digital Subscription Benchmark Report contains benchmark data from 307 newspapers in North America. To be included in this report, a newspaper must have more than a year’s data (reported weekly) for over 50 metrics for acquisition, retention, subscriber rates, and subscriber revenue.

These metrics are reported for sub-categories of subscribers by product and geographic region. Highlights from this quarter include the growth of digital-only subscriptions. It continues to make gains over print and Mather is forecasting that digital-only will overtake print by next year.

Key Benchmarking highlights include:

  • Digital Only subscriber revenue growth up 32% YOY (now up to 16% of total revenue)
  • Digital Only subscribers now make up 44% of total paid subscriptions, and are trending towards making up a majority of subscriptions by 2023
  • Digital starts are outpacing print+hybrid starts by 2 to 1.

Acquisition Trends:

  • Digital start rates continue to be promotion heavy, with new starts coming in at very low rates ($2/month)
  • The summer months have slowed down acquisition on both digital only and print, with print especially slowing down in 2022.
  • Digital subscribers continue to increase proportion of new starts , from 54% to 46% last quarter and now at 67% vs 33%

Revenue Trends:

  • Year over year rate changes for print+hybrid have been high, close to 10% in some cases, especially the largest publishers
  • Digital Only has also increased, but not as significantly (in the 5% range for most)
  • Print has been rising relative to Digital only and the Print/Hybrid price now stands at 3.2x

Churn Trends:

  • Digital and Print + Hybrid churn has increased in 2022, especially since February for Print and January for Digital.
  • Digital Only subscribers continue to stop at a higher rate relative to print subscribers, which is somewhat expected due to the higher start volumes and greater use of promotional rates
  • Print and Digital churn rates have increased experienced a lift of ~10% (from 3.4% to about 3.8% now) and ~5% (from 3.88% to 4.1% now ), respectively

In addition, we have added insights throughout the document to help you grow your subscriber revenue. Only newspapers that provide Mather Economics subscriber data will receive the benchmark report. Download (Mini-Version) Subscriber Benchmarking Report here.

Slowing rate of digital acquisition, challenges attracting new audiences, increasing average prices for digital-only products, and a focus on balancing acquisition offers and long-term retention.

Key highlights of Conversions and Paywall insights include:

  • More users are hitting metered paywalls or subscriber-only content in Q2.
  • Conversions per 1M unique users grew slightly with continued tightening of content.
  • Most publishers experienced a slight rebound in traffic after the summer dip; expected to grow during the fall season (sports, elections).
  • 85% of users continue to elude paywalls.


All data for these benchmarks are from Mather’s Listener™ Data Platform from over 100 news media websites. Key performance metrics are consistently defined and measured across markets using the Listener Data Platform. Only Listener clients receive full-versions of our Benchmarking Reports. 

For more information about how to get full-access to these reports, connect with us.


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