CANCEL CULTURE: Why do People Cancel Online News Subscriptions?

September 19, 2022

Mountaineer News

Community Connections

What was the last news subscription you canceled, and why?


Facebook may be full of people threatening to cancel their online news subscriptions over some recent op-ed and/or those endlessly annoying ad placements, but we wondered how many people actually went ahead with their threats to cancel news subscriptions.


Public data on cancellations is sparse. It’s not something that news organizations like to share, obviously. It can be annoying to cancel your news subscriptions online, often requiring an actual call to customer service or harassing locals via social media.


Going back a little ways, 2017 data suggests that about half of Americans pay for some kind of news, including making donations to public radio. Only about one in five Americans pay for online news, according to the most recent data from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.


According a recent National survey:


The No. 1 reason people say they cancel a subscription is money… Nearly a third of respondents — 31% — cited money as the primary reason they canceled a subscription.


Some people canceled when promotional rates expired; others were irritated that subscriptions auto-renewed or that news organizations weren’t transparent about price or gimmicky with their practices.


… followed closely by ideology or politics. Thirty percent of respondents said that they canceled the news subscription due to ideology or politics.


The second BIG reason: The amount of freely available news online. Participants said free online sources, including the limited number of stories that newspapers share before requiring payment, are “sufficient to get a general sense of what is going on.”


After that, there were a myriad other reasons for canceling:


The content isn’t good enough. Thirteen percent of respondents said they’d canceled the subscription for what we categorized as non-ideological content concerns: They thought a publication had become too non-substantive, used past news as fillers, copied other media outlets' stories or found that the content generally wasn’t useful to them or just simply wasn’t worth paying for.


Too much to read, too little time. Another 13% of respondents said they’d canceled because of information overload; in the case of print publications, they saw them piling up unread. In this day and age, long-handed stories are a thing of the past.


Customer-service issues. Finally, 12% of respondents to our survey said they had canceled primarily due to some kind of customer service issues. Print newspapers were getting delivered too late (often, these people switched to online-only), or changing a subscription was so annoying that the subscriber decided it wasn’t worth it.


So, we're asking... What was the last news subscription you canceled, and why?



Editor's Note: This article was first published on September 5, 2022.