Consumers: The lifeblood for news and OTT platforms for future revenue Don’t be surprised if you hit a 35% payment conversion with micropayments on your content. It will soon become the single largest access point to make premium content widely available for consumers, cutting across income and interest groups


Over the past three months I have spoken to many news and OTT (both, video and audio) platforms for integrations with ConsCent — our platform that lets media and OTT companies to micro price their content and allows casual consumers (who don’t want to subscribe) pay for one piece of content at a time. 

Not a single one of them — and absolutely no one — told us that they do not want to monetise directly from users. We started with the Outlook Magazine two months ago, who are pioneering pay-per-read in the country. In the coming weeks you will see quite a few of them going live, including India’s largest multilingual podcast platform, Earshot and OTT platform, EpicOn.

But, this post is not about who our partners are. This post is also not about which one is better: micropayments or subscriptions? It is about the past 12 days —  since Outlook released its new cover Missing on May 14. It is about access, convenience and affordability. 

When I saw the cover (on the day it was put online), I had a gut feeling that the issue would do well. The subject was topical, India was in crisis as the second wave of Covid swept through the country, death rates were soaring, and people were scared. 

Essays by people like Shashi Tharoor and Pratap Bhanu Mehta made the issue even more compelling for the Outlook readers. But, these essays weren’t free to read. They were behind a paywall. People could either subscribe to Outlook or pay-per-story using ConsCent. Each essay was available for Rs 5. 

More people — many of whom wouldn’t take a subscription — could read Outlook’s best stories of the week by paying just Rs 5. For Outlook, while many people took subscriptions, the conversions through micropayments touched 35 per cent — which means out of 100 people who opened the story page and saw the paywall, 35 paid. To put that in context, usual unlocks are in the range of 3-4 per cent. Conversions from page views to subscriptions are just around 0.1 per cent, or perhaps even lower. 

We also saw people micropaying for Outlook’s stories from 13 other countries, in their local currencies (ConsCent accepts payments in 99 currencies), outside of India. And, Outlook made 20 times more money — just through micropayments — than it would have made if every single page view would have generated digital ad revenue. 

As editors and business owners of media houses, they want their content to be as widely consumed as possible, but subscriptions don’t always let that happen. It excludes a large number of people, who would otherwise pay for one piece of content.Media companies have been at a crossroad for a while: should there be paywalls that would exclude 99.9 per cent of people from consuming the content, or let the content be free while making money from digital ads. Here, Outlook chose a third path along with the other two: it enabled wider access of its premium content through micropayments. 

As hundreds of people could access Outlook’s premium stories in a matter of seconds, without shelling large amounts, they also contributed to good journalism even if it was a tiny amount to the media house’s revenue — most of which would not have been possible if subscription was the only option.


Sunny Sen
Co-founder and CEO

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