‘Hulu for magazines’

Next Issue Media recently introduced an iPad version of its app, following an April launch for Android platforms. The app currently offers 39 magazines in two pricing tiers, described by Harry McCracken on Time magazine's Techland blog:

"… there are two flat fees: $9.99 a month gets you all 34 available titles with less-than-weekly frequency, from All You to Wired. $14.99 a month gets you those, plus the five weeklies (Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker and, ahem, TIME)."

The iPad launch represents a bit of a reversal, as Next Issue Media was conceived (in 2009) as a way to blunt Apple's perceived platform dominance.

Although the tiered pricing has been the subject of some debate (how many American households spend $180 a year on magazine subscriptions?), I think it's a secondary issue. Of greater concern: Why do I want a single app with a cross-section of magazines?

My iPad and my iPhone already offer a newsstand app that sits (front and center) on my screens. They also offer a web browser that lets me look for content by the article, perhaps the more appropriate level of aggregation and disaggregation.

In the last three years, Next Issue Media has positioned itself more or less sequentially as an anti-Apple option, a device-specific service, an Android-only app and now a bundled subscription service.

In the three years it took to come to market, Next Issue has shown an ability to adapt its tactics, but it has never questioned its strategy: to preserve the business models of (some) traditional magazine publishers. If those publishers want to survive, they ought to ask this "Hulu for Magazines" to be a lot more disruptive.

A bit of disclosure: Between 1983 and 1995, I worked on Time, People and Entertainment Weekly, all Time Inc. titles.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.