The Atlantic’s paid readership has jumped by more than 280,000 during the past twelve months, according to the latest circulation statement filed with the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM). Covering the first half of 2021, the statement reports a total circulation of 833,410, representing the highest in the publication’s 164 year history. This represents print and digital subscribers and newsstand sales.
In a note to staff, Editor-in-Chief, Jeffrey Goldberg and CEO, Nicholas Thompson, wrote:
‘The Atlantic is one of AAM’s oldest clients—we first filed with them in 1916, when we reported having roughly 70,000 subscribers. A more immediately relevant statistic: Two years ago, we reported 474,274 in total circulation. In the first half of 2020, we grew to a total of 552,242.’
‘Now at 833,410, this jump of 280,000 paid readers from the first half of 2020 to the first half of 2021 came without discounting; in fact, we’ve been strategically moving readers away from low introductory offers to prices that reflect the true worth of our journalism. The average value of each subscription has grown a stunning 45 percent since the first half of 2019, right before we launched our paywall.’
At the FIPP D2C Summit in June, we spoke to Thompson about The Atlantic’s introduction of a metered paywall, and how this had impacted its success:
“The Atlantic getting a paywall is like when you see two people and say they should get married – it was just very natural. Editor Jeffrey Goldberg’s editorial philosophy has very much been long, high-quality stories, edited and fact-checked. He was definitely going in the direction of the kinds of brands that support themselves with paywalls.”
“What is happening in American journalism is that you can support yourself through mass publishing, maybe go the direction of a BuzzFeed and try and support yourself by just churning out tonnes of stuff and doing serious reporting as well as goofy lists. But if you are going to go in the direction of all you do is high quality stuff, then you pretty much need a paywall.”
You can view that full session here.