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Media : Will Le Figaro Premium succeed in selling online news content?

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Le Figaro, France’s first newspaper in terms of audience, announced last week it was launching a premium paying edition (Le Figaro Premium). This innovation is a huge challenge, like for all newspapers which have seen offline audience and advertising revenues decline. It’s today well agreed that advertising can’t entirely cover the costs associated to producing and diffusing news. This conclusion is valid in the newspaper industry, but also in TV (less so in radio broadcasting however).


What differentiates Figaro Premium from the already existing paying offer?

Like all newspapers, Le Figaro already provides a paying version. This paying version is basically nothing else than an online version of its offline content. All newspapers understood digitalization as putting their offline content online, but this strategy has failed. Users were not willing to pay for something they could get free-of-charge elsewhere. What we see now is that media groups are looking for alternative marketing strategies to make their users pay for content. As most studies reveal, users (at least some of them) are willing to pay for news content (see the post we published on Wednesday).

Le Figaro Premium has some features that makes it pretty unique in the media landscape.

  • First of all it is an (almost) advertising-free website.
  • Second, part of the content is not available elsewhere (which is crucial to make people understand why they pay and what’s the value for them : remember the famous WIIFM principle)
  • Third, the website is tailored to be browsed on tablets. This is once again a crucial feature, as studies reveal that tablet users are buying content twice as often as computer users. Paying online news content is consumed primarily on tablets and smartphone.



Will Le Figaro Premium succeed?

It’s certainly too soon to say, but the least we can say is that Le Figaro, unlike other competitors, made a market research effort to understand the very drivers of buying online news content.

Their offer encompass a clear emphasis on unique content and, perhaps more importantly, the website is completely new and designed primarily for tablets and smartphones. In other words, unlike competitors, Le Figaro Premium focuses its efforts on tablet users and computer users are not a priority anymore. Have you realize how many information websites are still not responsive ? And when they are, the content is not presented in the most user-friendly way.

Another very clever move made by the Figaro team was to hold the team structure very light. Le Figaro Premium is managed by a 4-people team; with reduced costs, the viability of the project will certainly be assured by the initial target of 50000 subscribers.



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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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