Boston Globe Is Now the Dollar Store of Dailies

November 22, 2018

Recipients of the latest Boston Globe Weekender newsletter were greeted with this cheery offering from local scribe Michael Andor Brodeur.

From now through what is still for some reason called “Cyber Monday,” Weekenders can score a one-year subscription to the Globe online for just a buck a week for a year. I just did the math on that and it comes out to just $52, which is objectively less than other prices (including the usual $360).

 

Stop the presses!

On second thought, don’t. For several years now the Globeniks have staked their future on expanded digital revenues, as the redoubtable Dan Kennedy noted last month in Media Nation.

[T]he paper is reporting that it has passed the 100,000 level for digital-only subscriptions, a benchmark the paper’s executives had originally hoped to reach by the end of June. Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal has the details.

When I interviewed Globe editor Brian McGrory for “The Return of the Moguls” nearly two years ago, he said the paper would start to look like a sustainable business if it could hit 200,000.

 

Not to be the skunk at the garden party, but given that 1) the Globe introduced its paywall in 2011, and 2) it’s taken seven years to get to 100,000 digital-only subscribers, the question remains: Will Globe owner John Henry have the patience to wait until 2025 for the paper “to look like a sustainable business”?

As the BBJ’s Seiffert noted:

[G]etting to the second 100,000 subscriptions will be a heavy lift for a paper like the Globe that’s bound by geography. Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, said in an email interview a couple weeks ago regarding the Globe’s digital progress that “as with print circulation, (digital) growth can be hard to sustain.”

“It takes marketing, a steady effort to convert people to fully paid, keeping renewal rates up and replacing churned subs with new ones at the discounted price,” said Edmonds. “If times are tight and (Globe owner) John Henry is impatient with losses as he has said — I can see the budget for all of that being cut back.”

 

Maybe even cut back to a dollar a week.

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