Tuesday, August 28, 2012

McClatchy's The Star-Telegram launches a tablet-only digital sports magazine into Apple's Newsstand

The Star-Telegram, McClatchy's daily newspaper that serves the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has released a tablet-only digital sports magazine into Apple's Newsstand. DFW OT Sports is a very rare experiment in digital publishing, and one that should be applauded by all newspaper professionals – and its a pretty damn good digital magazine, as well.
The new app for the iPad costs readers $1.99 right up front, and definite move away from the usual practice of giving the app away for free then making the reader buy their issues from inside the app. Here, DFW OT Sports makes the reader pay for the very first issue upfront, then offers a monthly $1.99 subscription from within the app.

The approach has merits as the publisher knows right away how many readers one has. The free approach generally leads to lots of downloads but a more limited number of actual sales. The downside to this approach, however, is that the reader may buy the first issue but forget to subscribe. It would be interesting to see two identical apps take both approaches to see which proved best long term.

The first edition of DFW OT inside the app weighs in at 56.8 and is clearly designed specifically for the iPad. The size of the download is limited by the fact that the magazine is designed for portrait only. The August edition contains lots of photography and animated pages. Video is, as far as I saw, strictly limited to an ad for USMD Hospital. But now that the tablet magazine exists reports carrying smartphones might now remember to shoot video as might the sports photographers covering games.

(Good video content is a serious issue for many newspapers, and sports video is especially dear.)

The tablet edition already has a media kit online (PDF) and it looks like the paper is going to attempt to sell digital ad packages of 3 and 12 month durations that include not only ads in the digital magazine but other forms of digital ads as well as print.

The app does not say who and how the digital editions are being created, and calls to the newspaper have not been returned (typical, it is sad to say). But there are links to PressRun so it may be that the Star-Telegram staff is using that platform to create its tablet magazine. (The PressRun platform comes from Mobile IQ, though that name has since been dropped after that company – Mobile IQ, that is – was acquired earlier this year by Quark.)

If the folks in editorial or advertising return my calls I may be able to provide more information and update this post.

In the meantime, here is a look at the front of the August issue of DFW OT Sports:

As part of its media kit for DFW OT, the newspaper has created its own promotional video. Caution, though, you might want to turn down the sound a bit before playing: