Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12 Apps of Christmas: August sees the beginning of a rush of new digital sports magazines released by metro daily newspapers to showcase their sports coverage

The Twelve Days of Christmas runs from Christmas Day to the evening of January 5th, or Twelfth Night.  TNM's 12 Apps of Christmas, which began last week, will look at significant media apps  released in 2012. Today we have reached August, and will continue the series through New Year's Eve.

August is supposed to be the time when folks vacation and the media world slows down. But several media companies worked through the month to produce what I believe will be seen as an important publishing trend in the newspaper industry. Whether these first efforts are successful or not, the simple fact that these old media companies are moving in the direction of producing their own digital magazines will be significant.

September is the beginning of the football season, and so to launch a tablet magazine to house the content of a newspaper's sport section, one would need to begin early to begin work on the new app to house the digital magazine.

The first of these apps to appear on TNM was from McClatchy's Star-Telegram. DFW OT launched at the end of August and was quite a break from the earlier digital efforts seen from McClatchy. In fact, later that same week the newspaper chain released a series of dismal apps for its newspapers.

"DFW OT Sports is a very rare experiment in digital publishing" I wrote in August, "and one that should be applauded by all newspaper professionals – and its a pretty damn good digital magazine, as well."

DFW OT was not the first digital sports magazine to come from a newspaper, as several previous launches had occurred for basketball and baseball teams. But the Star-Telegram's effort was a preview of what was to come in the weeks ahead as new tablet magazines were released by the San Francisco Chronicle (49ers Insider), the Chicago Tribune (Bears Download) and the Chicago Sun-Times (Bears Extra).

The last three new tablet magazines all use the Mag+ platform to create their editions while the Star-Telegram uses Adobe. But all three are also using different business models to try and monetize their digital publishing efforts: some are paid subscription products, at least one is free; some contain advertising, others are single sponsored. This experimentation is a good thing as we get to see which models seem to work and whether readers are willing to pay to read these new digital ventures from traditional print newspaper companies.