Research shows consumers are more willing to pay for local news than before COVID-19

Charlie Spargo's picture

People are convinced that access to local news now is more important than before the coronavirus crisis, according to research carried out on behalf of Axate.

The study from Research Interactive - who surveyed 2,116 individuals - also shows that high proportion of people would be willing to pay, with the highest percentage of respondents saying they'd be willing to pay small voluntary or compulsory payments. Currently, most mainstream media publications have implemented a subscription service to access their content behind a paywall, while a small proportion ask for voluntary funds.

45% of people think local news is more important to them now than before the COVID-19 crisis. This goes up to 56% when it comes to people aged between 18 and 24.

Where before, 24% of people consumed local news on a daily basis, that number has risen by 4%. 

39% were willing to pay in some way for local news, rising to 48% among 18-to-24 year-olds. Axate's service allows casual readers to pay for access to online news articles without subscriptions through its 'digital wallet' - and is backed by this research, which shows that the largest portion of respondents would like to pay compulsory or voluntary one-off payments for news.

Axate has now launched a ‘pay if you can’ (PIYC) option for local newspapers, allowing readers to choose to support their local newspaper through a voluntary payment to read an article. Titles including the Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough and Windsor Express series and Barnsley Chronicle have already implemented the PIYC service.

Dominic Young, CEO at Axate, said: “These findings show how much people - and young people in particular - value local news: nearly 40% of people expressing an intention to pay or donate is unprecedented and offers a counterpoint to the assumption that advertising is the best business model. It’s encouraging to see, given the launch of Axate’s latest ‘pay if you can’ feature, that nearly five times as many people are willing to pay small amounts, whether on a voluntary or compulsory basis, than are willing to subscribe. 

"Local newspapers are facing a double whammy as print sales decline while advertising is near to non-existent. The sector is calling for government support, but can also demonstrate a willingness to help its own future by allowing its readers to pay to read. Our research and experience show that they will respond positively.”