Bloomberg goes behind paywall after success with Businessweek subscription model

The subscription model will include two packages named Digital and All Access, at $34.99 per month and $39.99 respectively.

Almost a year after introducing a two-tiered paywall to its Businessweek magazine website, Bloomberg Media Group will be introducing a similar model to its digital news site, mobile applications, Bloomberg TV livestreams, videos and newsletters, starting from today.

To coincide with the launch, Bloomberg has also redesigned Bloomberg.com and rolled out several new digital features, such as voice-to-text, newsletters and event livestreams, to make its content easier to access and more useful for business professionals.

Speaking to The Drum ahead of the new paywall going live, Scott Havens, global head of digital at Bloomberg Media explains the company is putting its products behind a paywall because, like other publishers that have gone down a similar path, Bloomberg considers paywalls as a part of a larger experiment.

He adds that the move was natural as, since 2015, Bloomberg’s reach has grown by 85% to 93 million monthly unique visitors across on-platform and off-platform digital content.

“In the first quarter this year, we achieved the highest traffic quarter on record for Bloomberg.com and we recorded the highest traffic month in March for our consumer app, since it relaunched a year and a half ago. Last year our digital ad revenues increased 26%. That momentum has continued into the first quarter, with digital revenues rising 12%,” claims Haven.

“At Bloomberg Media Group, we are realising growth through new ideas and innovation, and diversifying revenues is also core to our growth strategy. Our business model is unique and gives us the room to take the long view on the industry, and the freedom to pursue a revenue model that aligns with our commitment to journalistic quality, which leads to a better product for our users. We will test, learn and iterate our model.”

Haven reveals that readers responded very well to the paywall at Businessweek when it was introduced last year and led to a 45% increase in new subscriptions through the site.

“Unique visitors to Businesssweek.com have also grown over 20%. Not only have we been able to improve site traffic, we have also converted subscriptions through digital channels,” he says.

However, he denies that the Businessweek.com paywall was a test to ultimately introduce a paywall to the rest of its products, saying: “No, not as such. But it has provided us with invaluable practical lessons that we have implemented in our extension of the subscription model to Bloomberg Digital. The success of Businessweek’s subscription model is a clear signal that our audience is willing to pay a fair price for premium content that adds value to their lives.”

Megan Murphy, the former editor of Businessweek, had previously told The Drum in 2017 the paywall was introduced at Businessweek to regain lost revenue from shrinking advertising as Google and Facebook continue to dominate ad dollars.

Havens adds that with every Bloomberg Media-owned product behind a paywall now, it will not only bring the publication closer to its readers, but also continue to strengthen its ad revenue model.

“We see the launch of the subscription model as entirely complementary to our expanding and evolving advertising business as it serves the interest of the reader. New product innovations such as text-to-audio and dynamic content personalisation are designed with a focus on utility, with the goal of making Bloomberg’s content accessible in a diverse range of formats and contexts,” he explains.

“The more useful the product to our users, the stronger the value chain between our audience and the marketer, and the stronger our advertising offering is overall. Advertisers will see limited impact given that the paywall will only affect a small percentage of Bloomberg's total audience.”

The subscription model will include two packages named Digital and All Access, priced at $34.99 and $39.99 per month, respectively.

Users who sign up for Digital will have full access to Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg mobile and tablet apps, a live stream of Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg videos, podcasts and subscriber-only daily newsletters. For All Access, they will have unlimited digital access to all the content mentioned above, as well as the weekly Bloomberg Businessweek magazine and access to BloombergLIVE exclusive events.

For users who do not wish to subscribe, they will only have access to 10 free articles per month and 30 minutes of the Bloomberg TV livestream daily.

The new paywall will not affect Bloomberg’s 24/7 Twitter news service TicToc, which was launched at the start of 2018, as according to Haven, TicToc by Bloomberg's content is created for Twitter and accessible to anyone who is following the account on Twitter.

One publisher that is also seeing success from paying subscribers is The Guardian, as The Drum reported last month that the British newspaper has increased the revenues from paying readers to the point where it does not need to solely rely on its advertising revenues.

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