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    Do people pay for news subscriptions?

    When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, several news organizations were already struggling to stay afloat, and it has now pushed many over the edge. Several publications have been forced to lay off employees or shut down entirely.

    However, news consumption is still high, with 56% of Brits reading online at least once a week and a third (32%) checking every day. Despite a long-term declining trend, a quarter (27%) still claim they buy a print copy at least once a week. So, why are publications having such a hard time?

    In sum, 74% of frequent newsreaders, whether online or in print, are not paid subscribers to a news service. Half of the regular newsreaders (52 percent) say they have never subscribed to a news service, online or in print, and have no plans to do so in the future. An additional 8% claim to have previously subscribed to a news service but no longer do.

    Only a quarter of newsreaders (23%) have a subscription to a news service; this is significantly higher among those from ABC1 backgrounds (29%) who are twice as likely to have a subscription as those from C2DE backgrounds (15 percent ).

    news subscription

    The availability of free services, such as the BBC and non-paywall newspaper websites, is the most common argument given by those who do not want to subscribe to a news service (39 percent ). Surprisingly, 20% of news consumers choose not to subscribe because they prefer to buy print newspapers as and when they need them.

    Despite our recent research finding that trust in newspaper journalists are low for specific types of newspapers, it was not one of the top reasons for not subscribing to news services. One in eleven (9%) news readers has lost faith in journalists or believes that the quality of journalism is insufficient to justify paying for it.

    The fact that most Britons believe that nationally important news stories should not be locked behind paywalls and thus confined to just subscribers is another proof of Britons’ refusal to subscribe to news services. Overall, 51% of Britons believe it is terrible, with 33% saying it is extremely unacceptable.

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