Can Next Issue Increase Digital Magazine Subscriptions?

Posted on April 9, 2012

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You may have heard the buzz. Looks like five of the major publishing houses for print magazines (Conde Nast, Meredith, Hearst, News Corp., and Time) have teamed up to create Next Issue Media, an independent venture with a eponymous app for viewing digital magazines on tablets. (Scroll down for a video introduction to the service.)

Magazines, Connaught Place

Magazines, Connaught Place (Photo credit: prolix6x)

Next Issue seems to be answering a need with some good business sense. Americans apparently love e-reading, and are especially eager to buy magazines on tablet displays. The Big Five have also timed their product well, offering consumers a paid content, subscription-based option early on in the tablet adoption timeline.

But they’ve also been smart about their offerings, playing into schema consumers already have about how to buy print content. They offer single issues (comparable to newsstand sales, which consumers do like to do when testing a new publication or are particularly interested in a topic a general magazine is covering in one issue), subscriptions to digital issues of a single magazine (great for aficionados of a publication or print subscribers), and an unlimited subscription plan that works on a cable model. That is, the unlimited plan has a basic package for $9.99/month, and a premium package for $14.99/month.

The app is available on the Android Market Google Play and has a generous 30-day free trial for both the basic and premium plans. However, curiously, it only requires a credit card number at sign-up for the premium plan. No word yet on why, but I suspect Next Issue knows journalists and early adopters are going to register to try out the basic plan but serious buyers will jump on the premium plan. While requiring a credit card number is a best practice, not doing so may be a way for big publishers to reduce cancellations and chargebacks when previewing a high-profile new digital product.

Next Issue is also letting print subscribers get digital editions of the magazines they subscribe to for free. This may be a savvy way to transition print audiences online, but we hope they’ll change this practice and value their digital content separately from print.

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