News Corp.’s The Daily Due Next Week: Are You Buying?
By Ian Paul
News Corp.’s much-anticipated iPad-only newspaper The Daily will officially launch Wednesday, February 2 during a press event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch will be on hand to announce his company’s new venture along with Eddie Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet services.
It’s not clear how much the tablet-based publication will cost, but it is expected The Daily will be offered at a subscription rate of $1 per week. The press event may also include an announcement about a rumored in-app subscription payment system for iOS devices.
What is The Daily?
News Corp has reportedly been hard at work creating beta issues of its new iPad-only news source, but little is known about the newspaper’s content.
The Daily will reportedly feature original content by journalists from The New Yorker, AOL, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. The paper may also include work from News Corp.’s other properties such as Dow Jones, The New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
The Daily will reportedly include short, pithy articles similar to free commuter daily papers such as Metro and AM New York. So the big question is whether people will be willing to buy a weekly newspaper like The Daily when free competitors exist.
The Web is also awash in free news content, and iOS apps such as Instapaper let you download text-only versions of articles to read for free during your morning commute.
But News Corp. has been fighting the conventional wisdom that paywalls won’t work. The company’s flagship U.S. paper, The Wall Street Journal, has always kept some of its content behind a paywall. News Corp. also recently started charging for the Web versions of two of its U.K.-based papers The Times and The Sunday Times of London.
It’s not clear how successful News Corp.’s recent paywall venture has been. News Corp. said in November it had added 105,000 subscribers to its two papers since putting up the paywall. But Web traffic has also dropped by about 48 percent during that same time. Non-News Corp. newspapers including The New York Times plan on erecting paywalls in 2011.
Are You Buying?
But the iPad is not the Web. Users of Apple’s tablet computer and other mobile devices have shown their willingness to pay for apps and content. Gartner recently predicted mobile app sales would top $15 billion in 2011, a 190 percent increase over 2010 numbers. But despite that rosy predictions for apps, some reports suggest iPad magazine sales have fallen in recent months by as much as 20 percent, according to WWD.
So it’s not clear if The Daily will find an audience large enough among the world’s nearly 15 million iPad owners to support News Corp’s new venture. Then again at $1 a week, many people may sign up for the paper to give it a try for a limited time. It will then be up to The Daily to keep them coming back for more.