Mediatwits #10: Apple Backpedals on iPad Subs; GWU Study on Local News

    by Mark Glaser
    June 17, 2011
    The Financial Times went around Apple's subscription rules by creating their own HTML5 "web app" outside the App Store

    i-df3f49ba82885526e9d209bba73b730a-matthew hindman.jpg

    Matthew Hindman

    Welcome to the tenth episode of “The Mediatwits,” the weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift’s Mark Glaser and Dorian Benkoil, filling in for Rafat Ali. This week’s show looks at the changes in Apple’s subscription plan for publishers, as they backpedal on the pricing. But still, Apple will take a 30% cut of subscription revenues and keep the data on subscribers, which has caused publishers like the Financial Times to develop “web apps” on HTML5 that live outside the App Store.

    It's easy to say 'they're all wrong and pay walls are idiotic!' It's important to take a more measured approach and say 'is there a business rationale for this?'" -Dorian Benkoil

    This week’s special guest is Matthew Hindman, assistant professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, who recently did a study on online local news. Hindman found that only a tiny amount of web traffic (1/2 of 1%) was going to local news, but we wondered about sites that were too small to count in comScore data. Finally, we talked about how the New York Times’ pay wall and Wired’s iPad app prices had come down considerably. What’s behind those moves?


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    Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio’s Music Alley.

    Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

    Dorian filling in for Rafat

    1:02: Rafat in Uzbekistan

    1:55: Rundown of the show’s topics

    Apple backtracks on subscriptions

    04:10: iPad as a savior for publishers?

    06:00: HTML5 apps as an alternative to App Store

    10:40: Apple won’t dominate tablets forever

    Interview with GWU’s Matthew Hindman

    11:38: Background on Hindman

    13:10: Web-only news orgs don’t have big reach

    16:20: People spend 1 hour per person per month on all news sites

    i-0b13dbbdd93a89183e4ecc4c3eb98589-nwu stats online.jpg

    19:30: Hindman tried to find smaller sources of local news in 5 markets

    21:40: People gravitating more toward national news

    NY Times, Wired lower digital prices

    22:45: Heavy discounts come to NYT pay wall, Wired’s iPad app

    24:50: Henry Blodget calls the NYT pay wall a success

    26:45: Mark says Times is propping up the legacy media

    27:25: Dorian does his impression of a Times spokesman

    More Reading

    Why Apple’s Subscription Switch Isn’t Enough at MacNewsWorld

    Apple Backpedals On App Store Subscription Rules at TechCrunch

    Apple Subscription Policies, HTML5 Could Drive Publishers Elsewhere at eWeek

    Less of the Same: The Lack of Local News on the Internet (PDF file); full study by Matthew Hindman for the FCC

    Does a new report mean doom and gloom for local online news? Maybe, but here are a few balancing factors at Nieman Lab

    Launching Today: iPad Subscriptions at Wired

    The New York Times’ Paywall Is Working! at Business Insider

    Wait, the New York Times Paywall Is Working? Not So Fast, Mr. Blodget at BNET

    Weekly Poll

    Don’t forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about what publishers should do about Apple’s subscription policy:

    Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

    Tagged: apple george washington university ipad local news new york times non-profit pay wall subscriptions tablets wired

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