The Daily's $30 Million Launch: Archetype for Tablet Success or the Next Portfolio?

News Corp. app offers biggest test yet of paid content on tablets.

Matt Kinsman By Matt Kinsman

Apple kept mum on its highly anticipated digital subscription plan during a press conference today at the Guggenheim in New York City announcing News Corp.'s new tablet publication The Daily (which is available in the App Store as of noon Eastern), but News Corp. did offer a look at both the layout (which includes a digital cover about Egypt with a tagline that says "Falling Paraoh"), as well as a peek at the business model behind what could be the most defining tablet "magazine" yet.

While previews didn't offer much that was new in terms of iPad content navigation and presentation, The Daily will be groundbreaking in its attempts to monetize digital subscriptions on tablets. News Corp. predicts subscriptions to account for the majority of revenues to start but aspires to a 50/50 split between subscriptions and advertising revenue eventually. The Daily will be sold for 99 cents per week or $39.99 per year and will be billed automatically through customer iTunes accounts.

The approach is not totally gated: Readers will be able to share stories via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. The Daily features about 100 staffers splitting about 90 percent of their time on editing/writing and 10 percent on support services.

Breaking news updates can be handled by inserting a completely new page into the template, tickers running across the bottom or through social media channels, but the The Daily is going to take pains not to overwhelm readers with constant updates, according to editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo.

News Corp. has spent $30 million on development (which has been "written off") of The Daily and current costs are less than $500,000 per week, according to chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch. "We'll be happy when we're selling millions," he said. "Our ambitions are high but the costs are low."

The buildup (and budgets) around the launch of The Daily are reminiscent of Conde Nast's 2007 launch of Portfolio, a business publication that went against the grain by featuring big, bold articles and dynamic visuals. Portfolio folded in May 2009.

Matt Kinsman By Matt Kinsman

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