Asia Business Channel

The South China Morning Post is returning to a subscription based business model

The South China Morning Post newsroom in Hong Kong.


The South China Morning Post (SCMP), one of Hong Kong’s leading media platforms, has announced that it will move from an advertising based business model to a subscription based model effective August 1st for its website and app.

Tammy Tam, the SCMP’s Editor-In Chief sent out an email to people that are subscribers to its newsletter and posted on the website that “comprehensive reporting is costly and the century-old advertising model is no longer enough to sustain high-quality news”.

Tam wrote, “SCMP’s commitment to journalism means that this model must evolve and our business must align with our greatest accountability: to serve our readers with uncompromising truth. So, we are asking for your support to help safeguard the journalism that the world deserves and the future of SCMP.”

Effectively, Tam’s decision reverses the decision that was mad in 2016 when Alibaba acquired the SCMP that it would be a “free” media and would run its operations based upon advertising, events and research.

SCMP’s decision to enact a paywall for content reflects the realities of both the global Covid-19 pandemic and an increase in digital platforms, such as Facebook an Google that compete with traditional news outlets. Hong Kong and China-based publishers like SCMP, must also cope with the likes Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (collectively known as BAT), which occupy more than 60% of the total digital

In the period of 2012 ~ 2016, SCMP built a paid subscriber base of around 2.5 million, before Alibaba acquired the SCMP and removed its paywall.

SCMP has ambitions to be a global news media brand and has previously reported that in 2019 its international traffic had grown by 450% when compared to 2016.

SCMP’s Tam said in her email and statement in the website that readers worldwide will be able to access some articles for free before they are prompted to subscribe and will also have access to SCMP’s virtual and in-person events.




Read 31