June 24, 2013

In their ongoing quest to build profitable and sustainable businesses around digital media, content owners are increasingly turning to subscription models. Although a sizeable portion of the target audience remains unwilling to pay for online or mobile content, many consumers are beginning to accept the idea that quality comes at a price.

Consumers’ expectations of multiscreen access are helping fuel growth in subscription models. From the end user’s perspective, the implied bargain is something along these lines: “If I’m going to pay a monthly fee to read the news or watch my favorite TV show, I expect to be able to access it on my laptop, tablet, smartphone, connected TV or any other device I choose.”

Universal access isn't always simple or possible, and content owners are still in a steep learning curve when it comes to monetizing their digital assets. However, the success of subscription models across a range of industries in recent months has caused many to rethink the conventional wisdom that people expect all digital content to be free.

As consumers become accustomed to accessing content on all screens, mobile is helping drive growth in digital media subscription revenues.

eMarketer forecasts that subscription-based mobile video revenues will top $2 billion by 2017, up from $1.25 billion in 2013. This content includes mobile-only subscription revenues as well as a portion of revenues from cross-platform subscription bundles.

Within the mobile video space, subscription-based viewing is the largest revenue category but not the fastest growing. Revenues from both ad-supported and pay-per-view download viewing are expected to grow faster than subscriptions.

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