Monday, May 14, 2012

Hearst Communications updates Food Network app but ignores reader's one major complaint

Without exception, the apps from Hearst Communications for their magazine titles receive as many or more one-star reviews as they do five-star reviews. For print subscribers, Hearst apps are a rip-off as they force print buyers to once again pay for access to their issues. For non-print readers, the apps provide a discounted digital tablet edition that gets good marks inside the App Store.

This weekend Hearst updated the iPad app for Food Network Magazine and wrote in its app description that they are responding to user feedback:

We have made a number of improvements and taken your feedback into account with our newest version of the Food Network Magazine app. Please update to benefit from the latest enhancements and bug fixes, and please keep the feedback coming.

The app description text, though, will probably only make current subscribers even madder as the update does not change the basic Hearst policy: everyone pays for digital. In this case, annual subscriptions go for $19.99, monthly subscriptions go for $1.99.

I've never understood the policy of making print subscribers pay twice. I would think that the total number of print subscribers that would pay again would be so small as to make the risk of alienating customers too high. But I'd love to see some research in this area.