Two-Daily Town Goes All Digital (And Slightly Mental)

For more than two decades the hardreading staff has proudly been one of the 17 home subscribers to the Boston Herald.

But the plopping of four daily newspapers on our doorstep every morning (Boston Herald, Boston Globe, New York Times, Wall Street Journal) has become too much to bear in this, our dotage. So we decided to pare down our print publications.

Ave atque vale, Globe and Herald print editions.

But, of course, it wasn’t that easy.

The Herald, feistily, told us that we’d have to wait for a month to convert our print subscription to a digital-only one – a sort of tabloid quarantine that seems totally self-defeating.

The Globe, on the other hand, welcomed our shift from print to digital, as it has with many others according to this piece from the estimable Don Seiffert in the Boston Business Journal,

The Boston Globe now has more online subscribers than print ones

The Boston Globe reached a milestone earlier this year when the number of its digital subscribers surpassed that of its weekday print subscribers for the first time — likely the only traditional, regional daily in the U.S. to have done so.

Filings the Globe submitted in the past week to the Alliance for Audited Media show that the inflection point occurred sometime in the first three months of the year. During that time, the number of weekday print subscribers fell from 108,719 to 98,978, an 11 percent decline year-over-year. That’s about on par with industry-wide rates of decline.

During the same time, the filing indicates that digital subscriptions — as measured by a category called “restricted digital access”— went from 107,902 to 112,241 as of March 31. While the Globe doesn’t specify exactly how it counts the number of online subscribers, restricted digital access seems to be a good approximation, and the paper’s director of consumer revenue, Tom Brown, confirmed this week that its number of online subscribers now stands at 112,700.


Handy circulation chart:

Except the BBJ piece kind of glossed over the economics of the Globe subscription shift.

Let’s take the hardreading staff, for example. Previously, we paid about $850 a year (!) for our Globe print subscription (digital access included). That’s roughly eight times what we pay for the Times or the Journal, and twice what we now pay for the Globe’s Sunday print edition and digital access.

Two-Daily Town Calculator (pat. pending):

For every lost print subscriber and gained digital subscriber, the Boston Globe loses roughly $400 per annum. Not to mention, according the the BBJ report, the Globe this past year lost 10,000 print subscribers and gained 5,000 digital ones.

Totally not sure how that makes the Boston Globe more financially viable.

But, as the big time reporters say, time will tell.

5 Responses to Two-Daily Town Goes All Digital (And Slightly Mental)

  1. Mark Laurence says:

    The Globe may “lose” $400 as you switch to digital, but they don’t have to print your paper, make last-minute replates to get the sports scores in place, truck the thing up from Taunton, sort it all out in some distribution room, and pay your carrier a dollar or three each week to throw it somewhere near your front door. Instead they pocket the $400 you’re still paying them and it costs them basically nothing to send you the electronic edition. Of course they still have the costs of putting together the news product, but that’s the same whether there are 200,000 subscriptions or one.

    I would like to know, though, how the Washington Post can send me their fine e-paper for $4/month, the Times can do it for $15, but The Globe needs $30/month to send their digits.

    • Campaign Outsider says:

      True enough, Mark, but the cost of my print edition is also minimal – like 1/98,000 of the print/distribution costs. Meanwhile, the Globe has $400 less to pay the newsroom that produces print/digital content.

      Also true that the Globe’s digital subscription cost is exorbitant. Eventually, I think, that will submarine them.

  2. […] that the hardreading staff has gone all-digital and the Boston Herald is down to 16 home subscribers, the feisty local tabloid clearly needs to […]

  3. […] our Corrections/Clarifications desk: Last month the hardreading staff noted that Two-Daily Town had gone all digital. That, however, was not entirely true: We still get the print edition of the Boston Sunday Globe, […]

  4. […] (That contributed in no small part to our dropping the print subscription after several decades and going all-digital.) […]

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