At a press conference this morning, Time Inc. announced it is launching an "all access" digital subscription plan in an effort to offer their brands to readers on any platform. The plan so far only offers subscriptions to magazine apps via Samsung’s Galaxy tablet and Android smartphones, as well as via a dedicated Web site. Print and digital bundles are also an option.
Mark Ford, Time EVP and president of the Sports Illustrated Group, Terry McDonnell, Sports Illustrated group editor, and Randall Rothenberg, Time EVP and chief digital officer, led the conference and fielded an open Q and A at the end of the session.
McDonnell claimed from this point forward to be, "The greatest point in time for Sports Illustrated." Rothenberg expanded on the digital offerings for existing and new Sports Illustrated subscribers, explaining this new subscription package will create a more satisfying experience, allowing readers to "dive deep into content."
Sports Illustrated is the first brand to roll out with the subscription plan, which is debuting a number of swimsuit issue apps on February 15 to tie in with the print issue launch.
Sports Illustrated’s all access plan breaks down as a print/digital bundle at $48 annually or $4.99 per month or digital only at $3.99 per month. The current 3.15 million print subscribers get free access to the digital products for the remainder of their term. Sports Illustrated is hoping the bundle packages will not only serve their readers, but draw in multiplatform advertisers as well.
Time Inc. has also reportedly partnered with HP to offer digital subs via HP’s forthcoming tablet, which will run on the Palm webOS. And as of now, it appears that the subscription capability is separate from Next Issue Media’s efforts, of which Time Inc. is a venture partner.
In response to questions about Apple and Time Inc. subscription discussions, Rothenberg claimed it was too early to comment, citing that "it would be a very big mistake to speculate." He was quick to point out the newness of the digital subscription industry, claiming to be in "the early days of evolution in digital retail." Rothenberg said, "We love Apple. [We have a] great desire to sell subs in iTunes stores. I am confident at some point we will be able to sell subs in iTunes."
SI already has an app available through the iPad, launched December 2010.