WAN-IFRA - World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

06/13/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/13/2024 02:35

Carving a ‘niche’: Subscriptions drive 70% of Watch Media’s revenue

Carving a 'niche': Subscriptions drive 70% of Watch Media's revenue

2024-06-13. Anders Heering joined our recent World News Media Congress in Copenhagen to share insights from Danish B2B newsroom Watch Media's subscription journey and revenue diversification efforts.

Anders Heering, Managing Director, JP/Politiken Erhvervsmedier, at Wolrd News Media Congress 2024, Copenhagen.

by Neha Gupta[email protected]| June 13, 2024

Denmark's Watch Media has undergone a digital growth based on very traditional journalistic values and simple editorial concepts.

The company, owned by JP/Politiken, offers its readers niche industry-specific business news. For example, it covers industries such as media, shipping, finance among others, with dedicated editorial teams.

Launched 13 years ago, Watch Media has a 100 percent digital - and scalable - model now and has managed to create a profitable growth business based on subscriptions, which constitute 70 percent of the overall revenue.

Today, the brand publishes 16 digital verticals in Denmark on the country's most important industries. It has also expanded to seven sites in Norway, two in Germany, and a few international sites published in English. Later this year, it will launch in Sweden.

Concentrated coverage helps carve a nice

Watch Media sits between the news agencies, broad business media, specialised media and media surveillance.

"We cover not only the biggest companies in the industry, but also small and mid-sized ones, or smaller stories about big companies, which the broad business media is unable to prioritise," Anders Heering, Managing Director, JP/Politiken Erhvervsmedier, told Congress participants in Copenhagen.

The company's subscription business is based on a freemium paywall. Users can freely access some of the website content and newsletters. However, a subscription is required to access the premium content, which constitutes 60 percent of their content offering.

Dual commitment to revenue and reader benefit

A Watch Media subscription does not come cheap. It costs around €1,000 for one licence for a year.

"So, you need to be extremely interested in, say, the shipping industry to pay that kind of money annually, and nobody is actually doing that," said Heering.

As a result, all of their subscribers are companies - a mix of personal licences and the bigger domain or IP solutions. Apart from subscriptions, the company also sells job and banner ads, but "without compromising on the subscription business."

From a cost perspective, Watch Media runs a tight ship. Almost all newsroom resources are prioritised to create written content for the company's target audience.

The growth rate is sustained by reinvesting the profit made from the existing established websites in building new websites.

Seventy percentof Watch Media's revenue comes from subscriptions, 16 percent from job ads, 10 percent from banner ads, and 4 percent from other streams.

"Simply put, it means we can concentrate on delivering value for our readers by going beyond reach and clicks. It also means that sometimes we write articles that have very few readers," Heering added.

"However, this strategy works in attracting more readers who want to consume that highly comprehensive, niche content," he said.

Thoughtfully designed business model

Here are three components of Watch Media's effective subscription business:

  • Operating model:A good mix of free and premium content with a freemium paywall ensures revenue from readers, supplemented by ad revenue.
  • Key performance indicatorsfocus on content relevance rather than mere traffic, maintaining a lean cost model that emphasises journalistic quality. Additionally, the company leverages synergies across different titles and geographic regions.

Growthis driven by a robust pipeline of new titles, strategic investments in established titles, and mergers and acquisitions when there is a strong conceptual alignment with the target.

Annual recurring revenue of Watch Media's several sites from the launch until now.

Relevance drives subscriptions

Watch Media has a revenue of around €26 million and a profit of margin of 30 percent from established websites that have been active for three years or more.

"You can call it a low volume, high margin business," Heering said. He listed some key learnings:

  • Uncompromised focus on building a subscription base in our target group pays off - in the long run.
  • A segmented-based approach to the B2B market creates high relevance. "Readers might find our content not good enough, or too expensive, but they cannot reject it on the basis of relevance. And that makes the sale of subscriptions much easier," he said.
  • The experience of building a new, digital, international B2B media brand in a B2C focused newspaper group.

Next, the company plans to expand in new and existing markets either by itself or in partnership with other local players.

Neha Gupta

Multimedia Journalist

[email protected]