Bloomberg joins list of paywall publishers—but will readers subscribe?
is no longer offering its content for free.
The publisher is adopting a metered paywall: You can access 10 articles and
30 minutes of Bloomberg TV’s livestream each month, free of charge. After
that, readers will be asked to purchase the “Digital” package for $34.99
each month or the “All Access” subscription for $39.99 monthly. Bloomberg is also offering readers a six-month trial of either
package, which costs $9.99 per month.
Both subscriptions include access to the publication’s website and apps,
along with its Bloomberg TV livestream, videos, podcasts and daily
newsletters. The All Access pass also includes access to BloombergLIVE
exclusive events and the publisher’s weekly magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek.
editor-in-chief, John Micklethwait,
wrote in a letter to readers:
We have given Bloomberg.com a cleaner look and simplified our consumer app.
We have also expanded our in-depth reporting in areas that we think you
will appreciate—from economics and deals to wealth and opinion. You can now
get text-to-audio that will read the news to you. To start your day, you
can get The Bloomberg Open, a virtual newspaper delivered straight to your
phone; and as you leave work, you will receive The Bloomberg Close. Both
these newsletters will come in three regional editions—Europe, Asia and the
… So we are changing some things at Bloomberg. But our core mission remains
the same—to provide you with the definitive chronicle of capitalism, in all
its forms. We have built our name on smart, objective and data-based
journalism from around the globe. We welcome your feedback—and thank you
for reading this.
The announcement comes nearly a year after Bloomberg Media Group introduced
the same tiered paywall to its Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.
It’s another move in a long line of publishers placing their content behind
paywalls to increase revenue.
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$35 a month is a lot, though the 10 free articles are generous since many
other publications have reduced the freebies (The New York Times, for
the free articles per month to five). The cost is in line with monthly
subscriptions to WSJ.com ($37/month once subscription offers run out) and
FT.com (about $33/month).
In January, The Atlantic reinstated a paywall it took down roughly
a decade before. The publication also offers access to 10 free articles
each month before directing readers to subscribe.
“More than a million people come to our site 10 times or more every month,”
[Bob Cohn, president of the Atlantic] said. “What we’re doing now
is we’re saying to that group: ‘Help us continue to expand our
By putting up a paywall, the Atlantic joins a raft of publications,
CNN, that have announced plans to launch paid products recently to diversify
their revenue in a digital ad market increasingly dominated by Google and
Facebook. In recent weeks, BuzzFeed
founder Jonah Peretti
co-founders Justin Stefano and Philippe von Borries
have also been emphasizing the importance of building diverse revenue
streams in the face of economic headwinds for media.
also recently announced a paywall.
Starting April 24, after people read their fourth article in a month,
they’ll be required to subscribe for $19.99 a year for either digital-only
or print plus digital. (Video and slideshows will be exempt from the
paywall.) To sweeten the offer, Vanity Fair also is rolling out a
searchable archive of its articles, a subscriber-only newsletter and even
considering giving subscribers access to its writers and editors.
“At a moment when quality journalism is not a luxury, but a necessity, it
will enable us to invest in our reporting, writing, photography and video,
expanding into new areas and onto new platforms, with you, our core readers
and viewers, clearly in focus,” wrote Radhika Jones, Vanity Fair’s new
editor-in-chief, in a note to readers.
In her letter to readers, Jones also wrote:
… It’s a move long in the making, driven by our desire to build our loyal
digital audience into a true community—the kind that a subscriber-based
ecosystem cultivates—and by our ambitions to deliver more to that
community: more breaking news, more in-depth reporting, more voices in
commentary and opinion, more access to our incredible archives, and more of
the intelligent, prescient, agenda-setting journalism that for decades has
been the trademark of Vanity Fair.
Installing paywalls can help publishers provide more researched and
detailed content that offers readers value. By mitigating the race to get
clicks—now a near-must for publishers’ survival—such a move also curbs the
proliferation of fake news.
Paywalls provide a lucrative opportunity to news media outlets, as well.
Speaking to The Drum ahead of the new paywall going live, Scott Havens,
global head of digital at Bloomberg Media explains the company is putting
its products behind a paywall because, like other publishers that have gone
down a similar path, Bloomberg considers paywalls as a part of a larger
He adds that the move was natural as, since 2015, Bloomberg’s reach has
grown by 85% to 93 million monthly unique visitors across on-platform and
off-platform digital content.
“In the first quarter this year, we achieved the highest traffic quarter on
record for Bloomberg.com and we recorded the highest traffic month in March
for our consumer app, since it relaunched a year and a half ago. Last year
our digital ad revenues increased 26%. That momentum has continued into the
first quarter, with digital revenues rising 12%,” claims Haven.
… In an age where the Google-Facebook duopoly is hoovering up the lion’s
share of digital ad revenue, online publications need subscription money to
survive and to pay their employees…
Now, however, Bloomberg is putting up a paywall, despite the fact that it
can’t make the same claim. Bloomberg’s journalists are paid out of the
billions of dollars that its company’s financial terminal business earns
every year, at $20,000 per terminal per year. Bloomberg LP could shutter
the entire website tomorrow, and its journalists and journalism would
continue on the terminals; it’s certainly not facing an existential threat.
… So why is the paywall going up? Partly because it can. Paywalls are so
common nowadays that Bloomberg was effectively leaving money on the table
by not having one.
However, persuading readers to pay for content is not an easy feat. Many
Twitter users’ reactions to Bloomberg’s paywall looked like this:
Can’t afford a WSJ subscription. Soon won’t be able to afford a Bloomberg subscription either. As premium publishers abandon broken adtech, readership is set to dwindle to the well-monied. #paywalled https://t.co/D5AwaQIpfz
— David Carroll 🦅 (@profcarroll) May 3, 2018
To read this Wall Street Journal article about the Bloomberg paywall, I must first get behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall and view ads for two companies worth a combined $904 billion. pic.twitter.com/GbGzNtV3PI
— Mark Glassman (@markglassman) May 2, 2018
There’s one big takeaway for communicators with this announcement and
growing trend: Content can be valuable—but only if you can convince
consumers that yours is more valuable than your competitors’.
Michael D’Oliveiro wrote in Mumbrella Asia
that organizations adopting subscription-based models face a fight for
members. One crucial element to success is providing a compelling value
Millennials are getting more cynical after seeing their parents spend
exorbitant amounts of money on printed publication subscriptions and heavy
Pay-TV bundles over the years. With lock-in terms to boot. They see
subscriptions for what it is, a great way to make money at their expense.
So if you can’t articulate why you deserve to be paid – especially when
there are free or cheaper alternatives – you are heading towards doom. And
no, having a great user-experience is not a value proposition. It helps.
But get your content or your service serving a purpose first.