Everywhere, that is, but the iPad. Even though News Corp. reached a
deal with Apple to sell subscriptions to its iPad newspaper, The
Daily, Apple and the nation's largest magazine publisher are still
circling each other warily. Single copies of magazines like Sports
Illustrated and Time are available in Apple's app store, but
subscriptions are still some ways away. Apple typically takes 30%
of all sales in the iTunes store, and owns the data and billing
relationship with consumers, a key sticking point for publishers
that want to use that data and relationship themselves.
Time Inc. executives expressed confidence that subscriptions
would be coming to iTunes, but declined to give a timetable or
details on the talks. "We love Apple and we were on the iPad at the
very beginning," said Randall Rothenberg, Time Inc. exec VP-chief
digital officer. "We have a great desire to sell subscriptions in
the iTunes store. We are confident we will be able to extend this
'All Access' idea across all devices."
It is, in a sense, a magazine version of Time Warner CEO
Jeff Bewkes' TV Everywhere concept, where cable subscribers would
be able to log in to receive TV content anywhere, not only from the
set-top box in the home. It's a simple concept that's proven
complicated to execute, given myriad distributors and cable
The magazine version is more straightforward, but it still
introduces middlemen such as Apple and Google after 100 years
during which nobody came between subscribers and publishers but the
Google was all too happy to implement All Access because its
struggling Android App Market could use the content as a way to
drive adoption of Android-powered mobile devices. Apple, however,
is reluctant to allow publishers to the most basic data about who
is subscribing, including name, ZIP code and an email address. News
Corp.'s The Daily has a work-around that asks
subscribers whether it's OK for Apple to share that information
with The Daily for marketing purposes. That opt-in approach might
not assuage magazine publishers.
That data has long been a key business for publishers, which
marketed subscriber lists as a means of offsetting the cost of the
Another key piece of the model, of course, is advertising. Time
Inc. advertisers won't automatically have their ads on all devices.
Its tablet editions are sold to marketers on a sponsorship model
that restricts the ad load to seven sponsors. Last fall, the
company described research showing that advertising
on a tablet has a big emotional impact on readers.
Time Inc. is also arguing that it will earn additional revenue
from digital subscriptions. Under All Access, print plus digital
will cost $48 a year or $4.99 a month, while a print-only
subscription is $39 a year. Digital-only subscriptions are also
more expensive than print: $3.99 a month, or $47.88 a year. Sports
Illustrated has 2.9 million print subscribers.
"Emerging media allows us to transform our business in a way, I
guess two to three years ago, we didn't see coming," said Mark
Ford, president of the Time Inc. sports group.
With several devices and two operating systems -- Android and
HP's Web OS -- Time Inc. is hoping to circle the wagons on its main
quarry, Apple. For subscribers, it's offering another incentive:
Sports Illustrated's upcoming Swimsuit Edition, which will be
available on all devices, along with 80 videos. As Mr. Terry said,
"That's like three movies!"
~ ~ ~
Sports Illustrated later confirmed that it will soon do away with print-only subscriptions
entirely, selling the "All Access" package bundling print and
digital editions instead.