Published 2014-07-08

Digital subscriptions on the Plus side

Aftonbladet Plus has seen a record increase in digital subscribers. Some 200,000 readers are now paying for the quality journalism online.

Aftonbladet Plus has become a key strategic initiative for Aftonbladet, both in terms of revenue and making Aftonbladet a bellwether in the media landscape.

Following a recent campaign, the number of digital subscribers increased by 30,000. A total of 200,000 readers are now paying for the Swedish newspaper online.

It is the highest number of digital subscribers since Plus was launched in 2003 and no other newspaper has as many digital subscribers in Sweden.

“We are slowly, but surely working towards becoming a leader in Sweden as well as being among the newspapers with the highest number of digital subscribers in the world,” says Sofia Olsson Olsén, Head of Plus at Aftonbladet.

The Plus team has done their utmost to deliver premium journalism.

“It is at the core of our business. We can conclude that the willingness to pay for it is high among the readers,” she says.

Profitable investment in tomorrow’s journalism

Aftonbladets reporter Carina Bergfeldt and photographer Natanael Johansson created the story ‘Highway of Tears’, about a series of unsolved murders and disappearances of young women along an 800 km road stretch in Canada, especially for Plus. The story alone attracted a thousand new readers to Plus.

In addition, several new editorial features have been released and the historic image bank has already been well-received by Plus’ readers. Aftonbladet has also planned to add full photo archive access to subscribers of the Plus service.

The results Plus are achieving are very rewarding. Not only for Aftonbladet, but for an entire industry that must find new ways to fund journalism, writes Jan Helin editor and CEO at Aftonbladet, in the blog post Söndagskolumn #105.

“The fact that over 200,000 readers now are paying for our online journalism is a good sign for the future. It gives us the opportunity to continue to develop and create new journalism and new experiences through the use of TV, and interactive graphics and images.”

A bellwether in online journalism

After the advertising crisis of the early 2000s, the income of all Swedish dailies went down. Aftonbladet decided to try to move away from the dependence on the ad revenues. It was necessary to look at other alternatives than advertising sales to fund journalism.

Aftonbladet Plus was established to provide selected content to paying digital subscribers. It was not an immediate success, however, after the first two years income started rolling in and has continued to do so ever since. Plus has made Aftonbladet come a long way with paid online journalism.

“Compared to other newspapers, Aftonbladet has made great progress in charging readers for journalism online. Today we have regular visits from newspapers from around the world that want to come and have a look at Aftonbladet’s development, and learn how we develop digital journalism, payment services, and run the development of TV and mobile advertising,” writes Helin.