Music lovers have Spotify Premium. TV addicts have Hulu Plus. And movie buffs have Netflix. But what about magazine readers? Next Issue Media—an e-reading venture created more than two years ago by a quintet of top U.S. publishers (Condé Nast, Hearst, Time Inc., Meredith, and News Corp.)—is now applying that same “all you can eat” concept to magazine titles. On Monday (Oct. 15), CEO Morgan Guenther updated attendees of the American Magazine Conference in San Francisco on Next Issue’s progress.
It’s been just three months since Next Issue finally launched an iPad app (Android launched six months ago) and a month since it doubled the number of available titles from 35 to 72. So far, 70,000 customers have signed up for the service. Of those, 45,000 are existing magazine subscribers who are accessing the digital editions for free as part of their print subscriptions; the remaining 25,000 represent new customers, and hence, incremental revenue. About 40 percent of subscribers signed up for the $9.99 per month “unlimited basic” model, which provides access to Next Issue’s roster of monthly and biweekly titles.
The remaining 60 percent of subscribers opted for “unlimited premium,” which adds access to weekly titles (Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker, and Time, to name a few).
The app is allowing publishers to reach new customers, according to Guenther, who reported that 84 percent of Next Issue users are completely new to the titles they’re reading. Users are also highly engaged with the magazines’ content—unlimited access members spend an average of 70 minutes a week with the app, while premium access members spend 90 minutes per week. And, in a big plus for advertisers, Next Issue subscribers are affluent, with an average household income of $148,000.
The next step for Next Issue will be to get more magazines on board. Although it boasts some big newsstand titles, like Better Homes and Gardens and People, it needs to reach critical mass in order to become successful. Guenther also addressed a need to improve awareness and discoverability, which Next Issue plans to address with a marketing push during the holiday gifting season, including TV and Web campaigns.