Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Morning Brief: WSJ reports talks between Freedom and MediaNews Group have broken down over price; the Chicago Tribune touts add content; UK readership study of iPad owners reveals good news for publishers

The WSJ today is reporting that talks between Freedom Communications, publishers of the Orange County Register, and MediaNews Group, the media company run for many years by Dean Singleton have broken down over price.
MediaNews, which went Chapter 11 in January of last year, claims (according to the report) that Freedom is worth about $700 million. Freedom, which went Chapter 11 about five months earlier, doesn't say what it is worth, but no doubt its employees are shaking in their boots at the prospect of being run by the notoriously lean MediaNews.

The O.C. Register in April unveiled a new, natively designed tablet edition which would be in stark contrast to many of the tablet editions being released by MediaNews, which, for the most part, are replica editions produced by flipbook vendors.

"There is a sense to this that we are bringing back the afternoon paper, but its just not paper," Claus Enevoldsen, Freedom’s Director of Interactive of Marketing, told TNM at the time of the new app's release. "During the day you have the web, and 24/7 you have your phone, and the phone is really what you use for breaking news."

Interestingly, the new app has been thrashed by reviewers inside the App Store. But a quick look at the names of the reviewers reveals that many are from one-time reviews, meaning that they may not be legit. However, a common complaint by others involves slow download times.

The Chicago Tribune, which unveiled a newly redesigned website yesterday, today said that they plan on filling their newspaper with, well, more news.

In a strange press release, the struggling media property said that over the next week readers will encounter "12 more full Business news pages per week, 10 more full Nation & World news pages per week, 6 more full Chicagoland news pages per week, 4 more full Opinion and Perspective section pages per week."

"We've added depth, dimension and range to the Chicago Tribune to meet the expectations of our most loyal readers," said Gerould Kern, Senior Vice President and Editor.

The new website, on the other hand, appears to be designed less to impress readers with the depth of its coverage, but with its mass.

"The site is complementary to our print edition and now highlights breaking news and a ribbon to emphasize news from today's newspaper," Bill Adee, Vice President of Digital Development and Operations, is quoted in the release. "With the support of the largest newsroom in the Midwest, is the destination for relevant, timely news and information for Chicagoans."

iPad readership studies are appearing at a quicker pace now, which will be useful for both publishers and developers. Yesterday The Telegraph reported on a study of 2,000 UK iPad owners released by the Imano Digital Agency. (Info graphic at left opens to a larger, longer version.)

The study confirms what other studies have shown, that the iPad is not really a "mobile" device, but is used more in the home. It also shows that iPad owners tend to spend more time with their tablets than they do other electronic devices, including their laptops or TVs, meaning that the tablet, once purchased, becomes the center of their media consumption world.

UK iPad owners apparently love their devices with 94 percent of respondents responding to the question "How do you feel about your iPad?" with "Best thing in my life!" (24%) and "Excellent" (70%).

But the most important news for publishers is that iPad users continue to prove to be big consumers of media, with 63 percent using the device to read books, 69 percent use it to read newspapers and magazines, and 98 percent using it to surf the web. A surprisingly high 45 percent said they use their iPad for business/work.

1 Comment: said...

Just a quick note on the reviews we have seen for the new OC Register iPad app. The initial feedback has indeed been mixed, some people absolutely love the app while others.. not so much. I think one challenge we have had is dealing with set expectations for a brand that's more than 100 years old, while we are trying to attract a new audience and create a new behavior. One common complaint has been the download time. When we launched, you had to wait several minutes for the full edition to download. We have since introduced a feature that allows you to start reading after 10% of the download. When the edition cover lights up, you can start while the rest is downloading in the background.
Check out our blog where we receive comments and talk about the product:
Also, check out this post I wrote about the early feedback here:

Claus Enevoldsen, Director of Marketing, Freedom.