Scribd And The New York Times Team Up For Publishing's Next Trend: Subscription Bundling

Scribd And The New York Times Team Up For Publishing's Next Trend: Subscription Bundling

Excerpts from the article by Adam Rowe on Forbes

Reading subscription service Scribd has teamed up with The New York Times. They are now offering their content in a $12.99-per-month subscription bundle that will allow subscribers digital access to The Times’s journalism in addition to Scribd's own vast collection of more than 1 million books, audiobooks, newspapers and magazines. Both the legacy newspaper operation and the all-you-can-read book startup stand to benefit, as the deal will grow subscriptions for both brands. It's also among the first high-profile attempts to try what might turn into publishing's next big trend: Bundling subscriptions together.

"This collaboration between Scribd and The Times is one of the early deals in this new emerging mega-trend that is going to re-shape the way people access content," Trip Adler, CEO of Scribd, said of the deal, which is available to new subscribers starting today. Although the two companies teamed up last year to offer a semester-long "Essential Student Bundle," this marks the first time Scribd will give its users full access to a news publisher.

"Subscriptions have become an important business model," Adler told me, "because they offer a great user experience for consumers and recurring revenue for platforms and content owners. We believe the next big business model for publishers is going to be bundled subscriptions where consumers get multiple services for a single price. This will lead to a better experience and a better value for consumers, which will lead to a broader number of people paying for content, and ultimately incremental revenue for publishers."

Bundling subscriptions might seem counter-intuitive in today's internet-powered world, which has long done the opposite: People who once bought print newspapers in order to skim the sports section and the comics can easily receive the unbundled version, for free, via the internet: Sportswriters' Twitter feeds are constantly updating, as are webcomics, and neither of them come with a news section.

However, subscription models have become increasingly common over the past two years, with subscriptions at publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Harper's Magazine seeing huge spikes after the 2016 election. There's no going back to a print ad revenue model (print revenues among U.S. newspapers totaled $47.4 billion in 2005 and just $16.4 billion in 2014), and digital ad revenue is too low (papers' digital revenues, largely ads, totaled $2 billion in 2005 and just $3.5 billion in 2014).

Read the article on Forbes