When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post back in 2013, there was some speculation regarding why the exec, who claimed to know nothing about the newspaper business, would want to purchase one of the country’s oldest newspapers. But in the years since, Bezos has used the paper to his advantage – dangling it as a free app on Amazon Kindle Fire tablets, for instance.
Today, Amazon is taking things a step further – it’s offering a free, 6-month subscription to The Washington Post National Digital Edition to Amazon Prime members – a savings of $9.99 per month. This will be followed by reduced pricing.
This is a smart move on Amazon’s and Bezos’ part to boost subscriptions to the paper, while also offering another reason for Amazon customers to convert to the Prime annual membership program.
By hooking Prime members with a half year for free – something that Amazon can afford to do – it’s putting The Post in front of as many as 50 million U.S. Prime subscribers, according to a recent study by RBC Capital Markets. The firm stated earlier this month that Amazon may have as many as 80 to 90 million Prime members worldwide.
In addition, after the free, six-month trial period wraps up, Amazon says Prime members can continue to receive unlimited digital access with a discounted monthly rate of $3.99, or 60 percent off.
“Offering free access to new subscribers through Prime allows us to connect with millions of members nationwide who may not have tried The Post in the past,” said Steve Hills, President and General Manager of The Washington Post, in a statement. “With this special offer, Prime members can see firsthand why more than 50 million people monthly choose The Washington Post as their source for news.”
Those U.S. Amazon customers interested in taking the deal will be able to sign up from WashingtonPost.com/PrimeOffer, and can then start their trial immediately. The subscription can be used to read the online edition on the web, or the on the go using The Washington Post’s national app on iOS, Android and, of course, Amazon Fire devices.
As noted above, this isn’t the first time Amazon customers have benefitted from Bezos’ investment. The prior Kindle deal also saw free subscriptions followed by a discounted monthly subscription – initially $1 per month for six months, followed by the $3.99 pricing.
The Washington Post hasn’t said how many subscribers it was able to pick up through the earlier deal.
Still, this is a notable tie-up. With the additional savings after the trial wraps, The Washington Post comes in at a very competitive price point when compared with other digital newspaper subscriptions, at just $48 per year. What’s more, the $3.99 pricing was not said to be part of a limited time offer in Amazon’s announcement. That could set a new ground floor for the digital subscription business in the industry as a whole.
The move comes at an interesting time for the publishing industry. With today’s launch of iOS 9, a significant number of mobile users will be able to block online advertisements using new apps installed on their smartphones. That will lead businesses to look toward other means of monetization – like the less-blockable native ads or subscription models, for example.
Meanwhile, other publishers are exploring new means of getting their ads in front of a digital, mobile audience, through things like Facebook’s Instant Articles (and Google and Twitter’s competitor), Apple’s News app which also arrives today in iOS 9, Snapchat Discover, and more.