UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome, Inyoung Chae, Goizueta Business School, Emory University, to host a research seminar discussing ‘Paywall Suspensions and Digital News Subscriptions’
In an effort to increase the revenue amid declining print subscriptions, news organizations have shifted their focus to digital content consumption. In addition to digital advertising revenue, digital subscriptions provide news organizations with an additional revenue stream. At the same time, this creates a conflict with the news organizations’ societal obligation to keep the public informed. In this research, we make use of individual-level clickstream data from a major news organization and temporary paywall suspensions based on events of public interest to investigate how paywall suspensions affect subsequent subscription decisions. While paywall suspensions enable news organizations to inform the public, does this also serve their commercial interests? To address this question, we conduct both aggregate and individual-level analyses, the latter of which allows us to examine how content consumed during a paywall suspension moderates the effect of the paywall suspension on subscription behavior. Our analyses reveal that, not only does the paywall suspension increase the amount of traffic during the suspension period, but the temporary suspensions also increases the likelihood with which visits become subscribers. Our results suggest that the variety of content consumed during the suspension period is linked to an increased likelihood with which website visitors choose to subscribe. We discuss the implications of these results for news organizations and other digital content platforms.