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BT new digital subscriptions double in April from March amid Covid-19

Visitors to SPH news sites and apps nearly double, while page views nearly triple in April 2020 compared to a year ago

Singapore

THE Business Times' (BT) new digital subscription numbers doubled in April from March as digital subscriptions rose substantially across Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) publications amid the Covid-19 outbreak and "circuit-breaker" measures.

The Straits Times, the group's flagship, saw a 40 per cent increase in new digital acquisitions in April, Lianhe Zaobao posted a 138 per cent increase, while digital subscription figures for Berita Harian doubled last month from the previous month.

Tamil Murasu's digital subscriptions hit a new high in April, surging by 780 per cent from its usual sign-ups, said SPH on Wednesday.

In addition, the media and property group also had significant increase in and engagement with its digital audience during this period, it said. Visitors to SPH's news sites and apps nearly doubled, while page views nearly tripled in April 2020 compared to a year ago. Time spent on SPH apps also rose about 30-40 per cent in April from the previous year. As a public service, Covid-19 articles across the group's digital platforms were made accessible to non-subscribers since April 2.

Separately, readers of the group's print newspapers are now reading more often and in more detail, SPH said.

According to two studies commissioned by the group in April, 65 per cent of its print subscribers have been reading newspapers more frequently, compared with three months ago.

Furthermore, 40 per cent of readers are spending over 30 minutes to more than an hour perusing the printed papers, SPH noted. Staying updated about the Covid-19 situation (76 per cent), getting a good combination of global and local news (64 per cent) and having more time now (62 per cent) were cited as the top three reasons for spending more time reading the print newspapers.

The surveys by SPH were conducted over a seven-day period covering 1,247 respondents, with the aim of understanding media consumption habits as more people started working from home.

Anthony Tan, deputy chief executive officer of SPH, said: "The SPH team has been working hard during the Covid-19 crisis to bring up-to-date and trusted reporting to our audience. It is encouraging to see that our subscribers, both print and digital, are more engaged with our content during this period.

"We will also continue to provide Covid-19 related articles for free on our digital platforms. It is our hope that these new readers will explore our other content, and eventually become subscribers."

Last week, BT launched a new subscription package targeted at the individual reader to make the paper more accessible. The BT Personal Edition package costs S$9.90 a month, with no contract lock-in and no expiry. It provides one Web login and one app login. BT also relaunched its mobile apps in March.

SPH shares closed 1.32 per cent lower at S$1.49 on Wednesday.

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