Chart: Which news website has the most paid subscribers?

  • Paywalls are becoming increasingly popular among news websites.
  • The New York Times has the most subscribers, with 7.5 million.
  • The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Game Informer and the UK’s Financial Times rank next respectively.
  • Japanese media Nikkei ranks number one among non-English news sites.
  • Most of the websites on the list are from mainstream media, more than half of which are at least 100 years old.

While paywalls are becoming increasingly popular among news websites, most consumers are still unwilling to pay for their news online.

In fact, a recent survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism reveals that only 20% of Americans pay for digital news, and of those who do, the majority subscribe to a single brand.

This begs the question—which media outlets are public ready to pay?

Use of data from FIPP and CeleraOnethis chart looks at the most popular news websites around the world, based on their total number of paid subscriptions.

*Note: This report is based on publicly available data and should not be considered an exhaustive list.

With 7.5 million subscriptions, The New York Times (NYT) takes the top spot on the list. 2020 was an exceptionally strong year for the outlet – in Q3 2020, the NYT generated the same amount of revenue from digital subscriptions as it did in all of 2019.

a list showing the number of subscribers that online news subscriptions have

The New York Times takes the top spot.

Image: Visual Capitalist

The Times is the most popular by a landslide – it has more than double the number of subscriptions as the second outlet on the list, The Washington Post. Yet, although WaPo is no match for the NYT, it still enjoys a strong following, with around 3 million paid subscriptions from the fourth quarter of 2020.

Japanese release Nikkei ranks number one among non-English news sites. It is the largest business newspaper in Japan, focusing primarily on markets and finance, but also covering politics, sports and health.

Legacy papers: which websites are from traditional media?

Most of the websites on this list are from mainstream media. For this reason, they have had years to establish themselves as reliable sources and gain loyal readers.

Interestingly, more than half of the outlets included in this ranking are at least 100 years.

More than half of the outlets included in this ranking are at least 100 years old.

Image: Visual Capitalist

Yet, undeterred by these well-established selling points, a few scrappy websites have succeeded despite having a shorter history. Four of the 38 websites are less than 20 years old.

Athleticism is the last point of sale to appear in the ranking. Established in 2016, the outlet’s target audience is diehard sports fans who miss the days of in-depth, quality sports writing.

The need for reliable sources

Amid the global pandemic, issues around misinformation and fake news contributed to reaffirming the important role that reliable sources of information play in the dissemination of public information.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for digital media consumption. With paywalls becoming more common, will consumers follow suit and ultimately be more willing to pay for their news?