Subscription Websites and “Content Bundles”

Content bundles are strategic components some publications are utilizing; are they worth it and do they intrigue you?

If you tune in to the Mequoda Daily often, and I hope you do, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been discussing subscription websites a lot lately. We have been doing so with good intentions. Frankly, we see the potential and value behind subscription websites to be greater than ever before due to new technological devices and online practices that have received excessive attention.

For instance, there’s the iPad. I won’t elaborate too much on this since it’s been discussed so much everywhere since it came out. However this device has intrigued consumers and has opened them up to the idea of paying for premium content.

Imagine that, people actually wanting to pay for content. Of course it isn’t everyone; there are people out there that still expect everything on the Internet to be free. But it’s the target audiences, the early adopters and passionate individuals that are really into the concept of premium content. As publishers, those are the people we want to meet, create relationships with and adequately serve them the best content we can.

Subscription websites offering content bundles

A number of publications share a similar philosophy on subscription websites. The Boston Globe is switching to a paid subscription model for digital content as Rupert Murdoch’s News International (UK) has and how Ongo (US) will.

However, the last two companies mentioned, News International and Ongo, are doing things a little differently by exploring the value of content bundles.

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News International

According to an article on New Media Age, “News International is looking to bundle content across its titles to encourage subscriptions.” It will do this by lumping together content from four different publications that will then be offered online, through mobile and tablet devices.

The content-bundled subscription will naturally be offered for less than it would cost for a subscription of each publication.


Ongo is a US-based start-up that will launch content-bundled subscriptions to consumers by the end of the year. The company’s initial round of funding has come from leading media companies like Gannett Company, Inc., The New York Times Company and the Washington Post Company. According to an official press release, the company is offering their service for “reading and sharing digital news and information from multiple publishers”.

The concept of bundling content

From an initial outside look, this method is worth watching. Research has found that 62% of consumers are comfortable with paying for digital content. Of course those numbers are higher for tablet owners (86%) and eReader owners (82%). Bundling digital content together and charging one price for it may be the sweetest deal consumers can find in the digital world.

If these publications are offering bundled content through “online, mobile and tablet devices”, the online component will likely include a subscription website.

Bundled content for niche publishers

Of course it’s worth mentioning that the companies participating with Ongo are large media companies. So what about the niche publishers of the world? I could imagine this model still being beneficial for them as they could bundle with added multimedia content or even team up with competitors to offer similar, yet different, content.

What are your thoughts on bundled content? Do you think it will become a part of online publishers’ content strategy going forward? I’d love to hear your insight.

And for anyone interested in the subject of subscription websites, now that they are becoming a hot commodity again, join Don Nicholas and Phil Ash for their Building Subscription Websites webinar, which will be happening live today at 12:30 pm EST.


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