The power of bundling: How publishers can offer more value to subscribers


Marc Andreessen, founder of early internet browsers Mosaic and Netscape, once famously said there are only two ways of making money: One is to bundle, and the other to unbundle.

His observation has become increasingly applicable in the digital age. Take the movie industry: Netflix initially offered a wide array of movies and TV shows from various producers in a single, convenient bundle on its platform. However, as other major players in the industry launched their own streaming services, they reclaimed their content from Netflix. This shift led to the content being “unbundled” from Netflix and redistributed across multiple, specialized streaming platforms.

Something similar happened in the music industry. It was previously common to purchase music albums and CDs as bundles of songs. Then, with the advent of the iPod, one could purchase individual songs as MP3s, which became bundled again in a single offering with Spotify.

The news industry is no stranger to this process of bundling and unbundling. For instance, fewer and fewer people visit newspapers’ homepages to get their news and would rather have side-access to them through social media. Cory Haik, senior editor for digital news at The Washington Post, called it “the great unbundling of journalism”.

Contrary to Cory Haik’s opinion ten years ago, publishers seem to be pushing for the news to be bundled again. Twipe has long believed in the edition format, which, by definition, is a finite bundle of news. However, the definition of bundling the news has also acquired a broader meaning, that is, offering several products to readers at a discounted price. This tactic has been beneficial for most publishers, as shown by the fact that INMA research found 96% of top news brands have a bundle as part of their offering.

But what strategies do news publishers adopt for bundling news? What has been working for them, and what hasn’t? Let’s find out.

Bundling has increased ARPU by over 30% for Bonnier News

At the INMA Media Subscriptions Summit earlier this month, Alexander Lydecker, Bonnier News’ Chief Commercial Officer, outlined how bundling worked for the Swedish publisher. Their subscription bundle gives access to over 50 brands with a single login. A broader organizational structure change was also implemented, aligning goals across different departments and unifying the strategic approach. Their final goal was to increase perceived value and offer a better experience to customers.

One reason for moving to a bundle is to increase the average revenue per user (ARPU). Bonnier was successful in this, as since 2023 the ARPU for their users has increased by more than 30%, and they have sold over 200,000 +Allt subscriptions since its inception. The number of subscribers to more than one product has also increased by a third since the start of +Allt, demonstrating how effective bundling has been for them.

Schibsted’s Full tilgang bundle appeals to younger audiences

While Schibsted’s growth in digital subscriptions over the past decade has been remarkable, it has slowed down, highlighting the need for innovation. A recent innovative initiative to address this need was the introduction of Full tilgang, a full-access bundle with a similar goal to Bonnier’s: to demonstrate value and increase subscriber retention. Full tilgang bundles digital subscriptions to various newspapers, podcasts, and magazines, offering a comprehensive media package to subscribers.

Early results are promising:

  1. More than 10% of Schibsted’s digital subscription income can be attributed to Full tilgang.
  2. 60% of subscribers use three or more products, showing higher content consumption rates than standard subscribers.
  3. Subscribers to Full tilgang are more likely to renew their subscriptions than standard subscribers.
  4. Full tilgang subscribers appear to be younger than average, helping to renew the subscriber base.

The product’s future direction is clear: like Bonnier News, Schibsted wants to improve the user experience for Full tilgang subscribers, simplify customer journeys and standardize subscription management. In addition, they want to expand the range of products available in the full-access subscription bundle, including loyalty mechanisms and collaborations with other companies and media.

L’Edition du Soir has added value to Ouest-France’s subscriptions for over 10 years

L’Édition du Soir by Ouest-France illustrates an evolving approach to digital news delivery. They incorporated a bundle strategy for their digital-only evening edition as part of their digital transformation. Initially, the edition aimed to target separate subscriptions but shifted to include existing subscribers and provide freemium access to registered users. This transition enhanced user engagement and retention, making L’Édition du Soir a vital component in Ouest-France’s subscription growth strategy. Today, it contributes significantly to maintaining a loyal readership, which is evident in its readers’ habitual reading and low churn rates.

Ouest-France has recently launched L’Edition des Jeux, a special series of publications covering the Olympic Games 2024 on Twipe’s Editions Distribution Platform. Initially published monthly, it will become a daily publication during the Olympics. Available to existing print and digital subscribers, L’Edition des Jeux is a valuable addition to Ouest-France’s bundle offering.

41% of New York Times subscribers now pay for more than one product

The New York Times exemplifies the successful application of a bundling strategy with its “All Access” package, encompassing a variety of content such as news, games, cooking, Wirecutter, and The Athletic. While initially promoted at a substantial discount, this offering transitions to full price after the first year, aiming to foster engagement and drive revenue.

By the close of 2023, The NYT boasted 10.36 million subscribers, leveraging its digital reach to amass over $1 billion in revenue from this segment alone. The company’s strategy has focused on digital subscriptions, which have outpaced overall revenue growth, a trend buoyed by subscribers inclined to pay more for the comprehensive bundle.

Bundle and multi-product subscribers have grown from 2.50 million in Q4 2022 to 4.22 million by Q4 2023, making up an increasing share of 41% of total subscribers.

The NYT’s promotional and pricing tactics have been adjusted to favour the “All Access” bundle, contributing to the shift towards multi-product subscriptions. This manoeuvre is designed to enhance engagement and profitability. Simultaneously, price increases for established non-bundle subscribers are implemented, nudging them towards the more convenient bundled offering.

The NYT’s bundling strategy highlights its push for enhanced subscriber value and retention. It aligns with shifting consumer preferences, as more users opt for the convenience and breadth of content that multi-product offerings provide.

What can you learn about bundling from leading publishers?

1. Bundling provides subscribers with considerable value through diverse content offerings, as seen with Bonnier and The New York Times, encouraging deeper engagement across products and longer retention.

2. Publishers have demonstrated that bundling can significantly boost Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and overall revenue by offering a richer mix of content at a single price point.

3. The shift towards bundled offerings reflects changing consumer demands for convenience and accessibility, with a preference for comprehensive content platforms over individual purchases.

4. Schibsted’s early results indicate that bundling resonates with younger generations, suggesting that it serves as an effective strategy for refreshing reader demographics.

5. Innovative bundling strategies, including targeting new segments and integrating digital editions like L’Édition des Jeux through platforms like Twipe, can attract new subscribers and reduce churn rates by encouraging habitual reading.


Carlo Prato
Digital Marketer

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