How much would you pay for iPad newspaper and magazine subscriptions?
The Wall Street Journal will reportedly charge $17.99 per month for an iPad subscription, according to a source "familiar with the matter." As comparison, the Kindle edition of the WSJ goes for $14.99 per month.
This got me thinking about three questions:
1. What would I be willing to pay, per month, for a digital-only iPad subscription to my local daily newspaper of choice? (In my case, that's the Boston Globe).
2. What would I pay, per month, for a digital-only iPad subscription to a magazine ? (This is for a monthly; not a weekly or quarterly.)
3. What would I pay for a single edition of either?
Here's what I came up with:
For a newspaper, I'd think about subscribing for $9.99 per month. I'd absolutely subscribe for $4.99 per month.
For a monthly magazine subscription, I'd seriously consider it at $2.99 per month. I'd definitely subscribe at $.99 per month.
And for a one-off edition: I have zero reason to buy a single copy of a newspaper, so that's never going to happen. For a magazine, I'd think about it at $1.99 and go for it at $.99.
How about you? What price points -- if any -- would compel you to ante up for iPad-based newspapers and magazines?
(Note: I'm aggregating iPad pricing data here.)
Online Managing Editor
Great post. I think this pricing model is insane. I have an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I despise their editorial (worst knee-jerk hard right opinions out there), but it's hard to beat their business coverage.
My online subscription shouldn't care where I aggregate and display the ones and zeros, be it in my PC web browser, iPhone, iPad or iFridge. Are they going to charge me an additional fee for each desktop machine and laptop I happen to read the site from? Or for each browser? $2.99/mo. for Firefox, $2.99/mo. for IE, etc.
Now IE6 I could see them charging extra for. :-)
Thanks again for this post!
@steve_pdx: You raise a really good point. I have no idea if the WSJ's $17.99/month rate also includes access via WSJ.com. It *should*, of course. And I certainly hope they go that route. That should be the case with any of these digital editions.
And I think you may have stumbled upon an important new revenue stream for the Internet industry -- charge extra for IE6 access
Online Managing Editor
Interesting. Well, the first thing I think about is are we talking relative to what I have, or in general? In other words, if I was paying $15/month for -anything- on the Kindle, and could pay $3/month more for an iPad experience, I'd almost certainly upgrade. $3/month just for color alone is pretty negligible.
1. I'm not a big newspaper guy, so there's probably not much I'd offer here. I just don't go for print papers.
2. Magazines are much more appealing, but it all depends on the feature set. If I'm getting just a straight paper-to-iPad spread conversion, I'd pay cover price for the magazine... $2 or $3. I figure I'm getting a magazine experience without the wasted paper, storage space, etc., plus I get some basic indexing and the like.
Now, if you're talking about the Wired sort of experience, where you're really getting a custom version of the same content, I'd pay $5, or maybe even $10 if it was a great magazine for me (something focusing on a real passion area for me). And if there's functional content, like recipes or projects, now you're really starting to hit a serious market... and I'm in that market.
I have a ton of reading for my grad. degree, so don't have a lot of time to read fiction like I once did (and would prefer to); so there's a sense in which really compelling magazine content would fill that hole for me. So spending $50/month over several really quality pieces of reading that don't require a huge time commitment? That's reasonable in my thinking.
3. Same deal... $2 or $3.
Ultimately, it's going to depend on how much this is "a magazine on my iPad" or a "magazine experience." The latter is worth a lot more to me.
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
(edited a bit because I wanted to clarify a couple things and had to walk away from my desk for a minute)
I don't subscribe to any newspapers right now, and my local paper is just a wholly owned subsidiary of the NY Times; I do not really like my local paper's web-based offering at the moment, and the advertising-thick NY Times app is not really of any interest to me either.
Why not just create a web-based subscription based service that doesn't need a special app? That way I would feel less bad about paying $17 or whatever per month, as long as I could see the same thing, and get access to all of my "read later" items from my phone while I'm waiting in line for a movie, or from the iPad while I'm on the couch goofing off, or from my laptop while I'm supposed to be paying attention in a meeting.
I don't know what printing and distributing a paper-based periodical costs, but if I was going to pay for an iPad, and then pay the same cost for the digital periodical that I am charged for a paper periodical, it better not have any ads in it, or have significantly less. Otherwise, how do they justify charging me to support their outdated infrastructure?
This brings up this whole other sort of problem: if paper goes away, what do we do with all of the delivery drivers, and printers, and people who maintain the printers... perhaps the money I pay to the WSJ for a digital copy, if it's the same price as the paper copy, can be dedicated to retraining their print staff for their new careers once WSJ lays them all off.
This post has been edited by msilver: 25 March 2010 - 02:58 PM
I would pay varying amounts for the varying print media in a digital form, ranging from possibly paying full price for COMPLETELY ad-less versions, to expecting some media to be free for the equivalent amount of ads I find in them today. The good thing is, there's no reason for them not to offer both, or even many levels in between.
Considering that a huge amount of the cost or running a newspaper or any modern print media is printing and delivery, I would expect a decent reduction in price when delivery and consumption is digital. It may take a while to reach this point as these companies continue to try to support both physical and digital versions of their products (which is a necessity since critical mass has not yet been reached in the digital market).
A very important part of this conversation is ad revenue, and whether ads in these offerings will increase or decrease, and also (separately) whether the ad revenue will increase or decrease. There are many options for ads in digital media that I don't think have been adequately explored. For example, including regular ad pages in the digital offering, and forcing the viewer to wait a few seconds (2-4) on that page when encountered. In my opinion, this is quick enough to not upset the viewer, and long enough that the advertising company can be sure of at LEAST the same exposure they got in the print media. Adds can be interactive, such that clicking/selecting/touching them can load up that product page directly. This is FAR beyond what advertisers have ever had in this medium. An important option might be to tailor ads more specifically to the consumer. This doesn't have to be guess work. Have them select a few core interests when they sign up. This is all old news, and much of this is done online currently, but offering something that's more mobile and designed for that form factor is integral to penetrating the digital market in any manner similar to the way they have the physical market.
In short, I see no reason that digital versions of physical print media shouldn't be available at significantly reduced prices compared to their physical counterparts, since if done right they should STILL make a tidy profit. Currently, it seems like media organizations are trying to make quite a large profit on their online products, to subsidize their print products. For example, a WSJ yearly subscription currently costs $119.08 for print, $103.48 for online, and $155.48 for both combined. Are we really supposed to believe that it's only 13% cheaper for them to get you the digital version? There's plenty of evidence out there that the majority of the cost of running most these operations is the materials, printing and delivery of the physical product. See http://www.businessi...r-a-free-kindle
for an example.
This is a hard question. You're talking about two different things here. With a print periodical you're paying for production, distribution, etc. for something that's ephemeral, yet tangible. With digital, it depends how it's presented.
If you're talking a direct PDF rip of the print publication, then a fraction of what I'd pay for the print copy.
If you're talking about a well produced interactive visualization of the material, I'd start to consider paying closer to cover depending on how attached to the material I was or how compelling I thought the presentation was.
As much as I ignore ads, they do provide a visual and cultural element, though I'd consider paying a premium for reduced ads. This is an second chance for newspaper and magazine publishers to get it right. Let's hope they don't blow it again. If it's compelling, easy to browse before you buy (like print), and easy to pay for, I'm willing to play along.
I used to subscribe to several newspapers and magazines on my Kindle. I had no problem paying $13.99 per month for The New York Times...until I got used to the completely free access I can get to it with the NYT iPhone app.
I'm picking up an iPad on Saturday, so could I possibly get comfortable paying for content I can get for free? The answer, surprisingly, is yes!
One of the things I hate about the NYT iPhone app is that I have to manually retrieve every article. Just adding an auto feed so that the entire paper hits my device has value to me. After dealing with the awful rendering on the Kindle for $13.99 I'd be more than happy paying that much for the same content, but in a much richer format (e.g., color, working links, video, etc.) on the iPad.
Regarding individual issues... It would be nice to have access to these for a reasonable price. I let my Sports Illustrated subscription lapse recently but I could see buying an individual issue from time to time. I would expect them to cost less than the single-issue print price though.
Then there's the whole issue of advertising. I'm also probably in the minority since I don't mind seeing ads in any of these content forms. I'm used to seeing it in print, so what's the difference? That's one of the places where Amazon dropped the ball, IMHO. They should have enabled advertising in the Times and all the other newspapers and magazines.
I am hoping in the future that advertisers will see the value of paying for distribution rather than an ad that I can skip over. For instance, if I am in Starbucks, they could give a copy of NYT on their private network that once you spend X or have a premium membership card, you get access to the free copy. I just got to believe that Advertising 2.0 is coming some day. And what a great platform to get it launched.