Monday, September 10, 2012

Scripps Media releases a dozen new iPad apps for its newspaper properties into the App Store

The E. W. Scripps Company released 12 new iPad apps in support of their newspaper properties across the country. The new apps mirror the content of the paper's websites but in a reformatted design for the tablet. All the apps for the media company appear under the name Scripps Media, Inc.
Released today were identical apps for the Abilene Reporter-News, TCPalm/Treasure Coast Newspapers, Times Record News, Record Searchlight, Anderson Independent Mail, Knoxville News Sentinel, Naples Daily News, San Angelo Standard-Times, Ventura County Star, Kitsap Sun, Courier & Press and Caller-Times. A separate app, with a somewhat different look, exists for The Commercial Appeal.

The news apps are stand-alone apps that allow the reader to access the content free of charge, creating a little bit of new real estate for advertising. Whether the apps are really necessary is a matter of taste, I suppose, as the existing websites display fine on the iPad.

Each of the newspaper properties here also have an "e-edition" app built by Technavia, which has been very successful at selling their replica edition apps to newspaper publishers. These awful apps reproduce the newspaper as seen in print, while also offering readers text versions of the articles in the paper. But the kerning of the text is way off and often bizarre in many of the apps.

These e-editions, too, are being offered for free at this time – though how this helps the bottom line is anybody's guess.

Because the replica edition apps also do not support Newsstand, they would stand next to the website apps on a person's iPad. From a marketing perspective, this is a bit confusing – which app should a reader download?

Scripps reported improved earnings for the last quarter thanks to political advertising boosting its television division. But newspaper ad revenue decreased 4.7 percent in Q2, with print down 7.2 percent and digital down 3.3 percent. Circulation also declined 3.7 percent.

None of the new apps look designed to address shrinking paid circulation as the company has yet to launch a digital product meant to test their readers willingness to pay for a digital subscription.