Yet another, “wow, Condé Nast really needs money,” story. Following the public disclosure of Vogue Runway’s pay-for-play option, the legacy publisher announced that they’d be implementing digital paywalls on its entire US catalog, according to a recent Business of Fashion story.
While the news isn’t stunning — a few of their publications were already under metered paywalls, including Vanity Fair and The New Yorker — it does signal a radical departure from their previous models and is another aggressive step toward offsetting the $120 million they lost in 2017.
It might sound like a futile strategy in the Age of Content, but the story did note that “The New Yorker’s paywall [drove] $115 million in subscription revenue in 2018, up 69 percent from 2015,” and that “paywalls are the latest trend amongst publishers looking [to] fill the hole left by advertisers.”
$115 million is no joke, and if the rest of those publications can generate even a fraction of that, it’d be huge for a company whose “rapid and sustained decline in advertising revenue” left it reeling for over a year.
“The fundamental question is: how many people will pay?” the story asked, noting that not every publication produces quality work like The New Yorker does. And on those others, “Condé Nast will need to convert a good portion of casual web browsers into paying readers, while retaining what’s left of its print subscribers.”
It’s a gamble. As BoF said, “For Condé Nast to make online subscription models work, [they’ll] have to construct entirely different businesses focused on delivering true excellence and value to their readers — not just pleasing their advertisers. Whether [they] can pull off the pivot remains to be seen.”
You can read more about it at Business of Fashion.