Back on December 1, 2009, just before Reed Business Information began to close or give away many of its industry trade magazines, the company was able to sell off some of its titles to PE backed media firms.
NewBay Media, the publisher of music magazines such as Guitar Player and Mix Magazine, and backed by The Wicks Group of Companies, picked up Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News, and This Week in Consumer Electronics (TWICE). The company is following the typical roll up strategy, as it recently bought the music titles of Future US.
Over the last week or so NewBay Media has now released digital editions for two of those old RBI titles: Broadcasting & Cable++ and Multichannel News++.
The app names might lead you to believe that these apps are interactive, possibly using the Mag+ platform – but you'd be wrong. These are replica editions made by Nxtbook Media, known mostly for its flipbooks. The apps are universal, meaning they can be downloaded for an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
In fact, all the NewBay Media apps found in the App Store are replicas, including their music magazine apps, and all are getting hammered by users – lots of one-star reviews.
One might think that a firm media firm like NewBay would be leading the digital charge, not being so backward in its approach. But there is a big difference between VCs and PEs. While VCs generally invest in start-ups, PEs dominiate the B2B industry. They employ either roll-up or divestiture tactics, so money to invest in digital simply won't be there – they want to buy up properties to grow the value of the company, then sell it all off later on. The future of digital publishing is hardly their concern.
What makes these two new apps a bit different, though, is that they are saddled with enormously high subscription rates. The other NewBay titles, being a bit more consumer oriented, have pretty standard annual subscription rates – Guitar Player Magazine++, for instance, will cost you $18.99 a year for the digital edition.
The digital edition of Broadcasting & Cable, though, costs $169.99 per year – a $20 discount over the print edition, but hardly a bargain.