Readers are ready for Asian publishers to switch on their paywalls

Jaak Kalja

Jaak Kalja

Digital advertisement specialist

Asian digital news publishers have so far relied on ad-based revenue models. Usage of paywalls in the region is still low. But trends across other digital segments suggest consumers are ready for paywalls.

Subscription-based revenue in Asia is growing for video, music & gaming services. People in the region have become used to paying for digital content on a recurring basis. Covid-19 has accelerated this trend, increasing the need for digital media consumption from home. 

Publisher audiences have been “warmed up” by other media categories. Which means now is the right time to start implementing paywalls and other reader revenue solutions.

Do subscriptions work in in Asia? Just look at Netflix…

As of 2020, nearly half of Netflix’s new subscriber growth came from the Asia-Pacific region. For the first time ever, the APAC region became the largest contributor to Netflix’s paid membership growth. 

The streaming service has also started to commission and produce shows with a more localized appeal. Hindi language dramas like “Sacred Games” have been produced to appeal to local audiences.  

APAC subscriber statistics continue to rise, as more and more people stay at home and seek out entertainment online. Online streaming services are fast becoming the new normal, the world over, and Asia is no exception to this trend. 

Netflix is also showing the way for digital news publishers. Publishers provide readers with a combination of valuable international and local content. The format is different but if the content is valuable, people are willing to subscribe.

News media consumption is shifting online

Media consumption and digital subscription growth in the Asia-Pacific region are set to continue growing over the next five years. The APAC media and entertainment market is predicted to register a CAGR of 7.2% between 2020 and 2025. 

Industries with a physical component have been made vulnerable by Covid-19. The pandemic appears to have had the opposite effect on online entertainment. News media publishers have seen a conflicting impact: negative trends for their print business, increases in readership for their online channels.  

So far, publishers in Asia have mostly relied on advertising revenue as their online monetization strategy. At the same time, industry leaders agree that it’s time for news organizations to diversify their revenue streams. Paywalls are the solution, especially as advertising revenue has posed conflicts of interest for media organizations. 

By getting people to pay for the news they consume within a subscription model, this conflict of interest could be mitigated. For this to be a success, news outlets and publishers will need to focus on creating valuable content offerings for their readers. 

Where to get started with your paywall?

FIPP hosted an excellent webinar on data-driven pricing strategies some months back. Insights from the webinar are useful for both publishers with an existing paywall and those still planning their launch.

Keep in mind though, not all strategies from European and American publishers can be adopted directly for the Asia consumers. One key challenge Asian publishers need to resolve is the access to payment methods. 

While in Western markets almost everyone has a credit card to subscribe, few people in Asia own them. Instead, local payment methods such as digital wallets and carrier billing should be implemented.

Interested in finding out more about adopting your paywall strategy to the Asian audience? Download our media monetization strategies white paper below to learn more.

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