Daily Show Cancelled?

Not that Daily Show – not the one with Jon Stewart (and an audience). No, I’m talking about Rupert Murdoch’s “The Daily” — the subscription newspaper without an audience. It was introduced in early 2011 for a $0.99 weekly subscription fee ($39.99 annually) and advertisements. Yesterday News Corp. announced it was ending the experiment. Hindsight being 20/20 this outcome was not hard to predict:

  • We are increasingly eschewing the habit of appointment newspaper reading. Turns out, over 50 percent of the subscribers to digital newspapers are over the age of 45, and nearly 40 percent have incomes over $100K. Having grown up with newspaper reading habits, my bet is they weren’t ready to abandon their appointments with their paper copies of the Times or Wall Street Journal.
  •  The younger audience mostly never developed the newspaper habit, so it’s not surprising that fewer millennials took to this idea.
  •  Ubiquity strikes again. As we have seen in other forms of entertainment, shopping, and gaming, consumers today have excessive amounts of choice. There are hundreds of apps from networks, magazines and other established media networks, and thousands more from bloggers, tweeters and other new age media outlets.
  • Most online entertainment options are free. As is the case with music, gaming, and shopping, we’ve become accustomed to free access, often supported by advertising. That’s a difficult model to make profitable, and a hard consumer addiction to break – for news, mobile games, or music streaming
  • I admit I did read the New York Times on my Blackberry — nearly every day. But that’s rare these days. Most of us are getting news in snack size bites, from links and clicks . . . wherever we can.

The lesson of The Daily is simple. Not everything can be digital. You have to honestly ask yourself, “is this a real need for a large enough audience; do the usage patterns make sense; can we (really) sell enough subscriptions or advertising to make a profit; and, are we competing against so much, or so much that is free, that it will be impossible to monetize our audience?”

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