News Corp.’s experiment in tablet-only publishing, The Daily, will cease publication December 15 after failing to find a large enough audience to support it.
The Daily Editor-in-Chief Jesse Angelo will move to The New York Post as publisher along with some staff, technology, and other assets, News Corp. announced today. “From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation,” News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term.”
The Daily’s demise had been expected for some time. In July, The New York Observer reported there were rumors that The Daily’s future was to be reassessed after the U.S. presidential election on November 6.
A great deal of excitement surrounded The Daily’s debut in February 2011 as the first iPad-only, subscription-based newspaper. Launch pricing for The Daily was $0.99 per week or $40 per year for a once daily digital publication that featured regular news as well as some digital-specific features such as videos, interactive ads, and 360-degree photographs. During its debut, great fanfare couldn’t save The Daily from bad press thanks to constant app crashes that took several weeks to work out, frustrating users and possibly pushing some readers away for good.
Crashes aside, The Daily was always a hard sell since its focus wasn’t to compete with The New York Times, The New York Post or The Wall Street Journal. Unlike many mainstream newspapers, The Daily focused on short, pithy articles that were easy to consume on a morning train ride to work. In other words, The Daily was trying to convince readers to pay for a publication that was slightly more substantial than free, non-interactive print alternatives such as Metro and AM New York.
The Daily also failed to get much online traction since the publication did not have a functioning Web site and readers could access articles on the Web only through a direct link. That made it harder for the publication to get noticed outside of its subscriber base even when it broke interesting news stories, such as when it published purported shots of Microsoft Office for the iPad in February.
Hoping to gain more readers, The Daily abandoned its iPad-only roots early in 2012. In January, The Daily moved to Android by preloading the publication’s app on Verizon models of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The publication later moved to the Kindle Fire as well as Amazon’s Appstore for Android. The Daily spread to the iPhone in May.
But even being on three popular tablets and the iPhone, The Daily was unable to gain a mass following that satisfied News Corp.’s expectations. The digital publication currently claims about 100,000 subscribers, according to a purported internal note to The Daily staff obtained by Talking Points Memo.
As The Daily recedes into history’s digital trash bin, other digital-only publications are trying to succeed on the iPad and other platforms. The high-profile magazine Project from Virgin Interactive Publishing is still publishing, and smaller publications are trying to make a go of it such as the recently launched The Magazine from Instapaper creator Marco Arment.
Even though The Daily is going away as a publication, the company says the digital brand may live on as a part of other News Corp. properties such as The New York Post.