Sat, Mar 05, 2011 - Page 10 News List

IPad digital newspaper ‘going great,’ News Corp says

AFP, NEW YORK

The Daily, the digital newspaper created for Apple’s iPad by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has tallied hundreds of thousands of downloads since its launch a month ago, its publisher said on Thursday.

“It’s going great,” Greg Clayman said at the paidContent conference in New York. “We’re not disclosing the exact numbers [of downloads], but it’s in the hundreds of thousands.”

Although the Daily has extended a free trial period until March 21, Clayman said a number of readers had already opened their wallets to pay the subscription fee of US$0.99 a week.

He declined to say exactly how many paid subscribers the Daily has signed up, joking only that it’s “more than one and less than a billion.”

Clayman said News Corp had agreed to the same revenue-sharing that Apple is offering to other publishers, with the California-based gadget-maker taking a 30 percent cut of each subscription.

“We get the same revenue share that everybody else does,” he said.

Clayman said News Corp was not “locked into” a single platform for the Daily, which is currently only available on the iPad, and it would eventually be offered on tablet computers running Google’s Android software.

“We want to be where the consumers are,” he said.

Apple is the tablet market leader with sales of more than 15 million iPads, but “we do expect the Android tablet market will grow,” Clayman said. “What the iPad does is it allows you to create something brand new.”

In an era of shrinking newspaper circulation and eroding print advertising revenue, the managing editor of the Financial Times’ Web site on Thursday also urged other publishers to try charging for online content, saying the British outlet has more than 200,000 digital subscribers.

Rob Grimshaw, who has headed the newspaper’s online operations since June 2008, said the Financial Times circulates about 400,000 print copies a day and has 207,000 subscribers for FT.com.

“As a publication, we’re halfway to replicating our paying print audience in digital and that’s a really big deal for our business overall,” Grimshaw said at a panel discussion at the conference.

FT.com also has 3 million registered users — readers who can see up to 10 articles a month before being asked to subscribe, he said.

Grimshaw addressed the fears of many publishers that erecting a pay-wall would result in a significant drop in traffic and online advertising revenue.

“Our digital revenues from subscriptions increased by over 50 percent year over year,” he said. “We’ve found with this model that there really isn’t a trade-off between advertising and subscription, because our advertising revenues online also grew by double digits.”

The key to charging for content online is “quality and differentiation,” Grimshaw said.

In the US, Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal currently charges for full access to WSJ.com and the New York Times said this week that it would begin charging at NYTimes.com “shortly.”

Atlantic Media Co president Justin Smith told the same panel that charging for online content is better suited to financial news outlets like the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

“These are very distinct, niche markets with expensive content that’s hard to produce,” Smith said.

“Sure, pay-walls work well there,” but people are unlikely to pay for other content, including his own company’s respected magazine the Atlantic, he said.

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