Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dallas Morning News releases new iPad app; part of new digital strategy that includes charging for some content

The Dallas Morning News put into place the last piece of the puzzle to its new digital media strategy. The Belo-owned newspaper's new iPad app uses the NYT's licensed Press Engine to create a tablet edition that mirrors that of the Times and other similar iPad editions.
The Dallas Morning News HD is a free app in the iTunes App Store. At only 5 MB the app brings in content via feeds into a now familiar layout. Controls and social networking features are minimal: one can adjust the font size, save articles into a Favorites section, and e-mail articles found in the tablet edition to friends and family. There is no built in Twitter or other social network linking in this first edition (as far as I can see).

Two weeks ago the editors of the DMN announced a digital media strategy that includes a newly designed website, along with new mobile and iPad applications. The most important part was the announced move to a pay model where readers would be charged $16.95 per month for full digital access. Print and digital would cost $33.95 according to the announcement.

Currently the DMN still only offers combined print and digital subscriptions -- actually you get a one penny discount for opting out of digital -- but the company says it plans to introduce its digital only subscription package starting on February 15. (Do they know something we don't know, like that the new iOS update will have been released by them? Just guessing.)


Top Left: the splash page: Top Right: the iPad Subscriber Content page.
Bottom Left: standard story layout; Bottom Right: the website Member Center where subscribers can sign-in and new readers register.

The majority of the DMN's news content is still free of charge to access -- both online and in the app. Subscriber Content is designated with a small "D" icon next to the story. Accessing the story leads to sign-in page seen in the Bottom Right screenshot above. Breaking news will remain in front of the paywall, though it is clear that the paper will keep much of its sports content behind its new Subscriber Content paywall.

At least for now, the delineation between free and paid content seems pretty arbitrary. In the video section of the iPad app, half the content is free, half requires you be a subscriber. The video quality looks pretty good, and, yes, it can be streamed to your Apple TV.