Time Inc. Makes Another Play for Tablet Customers

Time Inc. just announced a big deal to sell digital magazine subscriptions on HP’s new TouchPad tablet, and today, it’s continuing its effort to expand access to its magazines with an announcement about Sports Illustrated.
SI is announcing an “All Access” plan that will let people access the magazine on tablets and smartphones powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system, and on the Web. Customers have the option of choosing a print/digital bundle or going digital only.
Time Inc. eventually wants to roll out similar offerings for its other magazine brands. The deal gives the company the long sought-after ability to sell digital subscriptions. Publishers have long wanted to do something like this with the iPad, but have been unable to agree on terms with Apple.
Broad strokes about All Access leaked yesterday, but today SI announced full details of the plan, including the cost.
Like it does with print magazines, Time Inc. is offering more favorable pricing to consumers when they sign up for a year. A print/digital bundle costs $48 a year, while paying the $4.99 monthly price works out to about $60 a year.
With digital-only subs, Time Inc. seems to be taking the approach of other publishers in charging about the same as it does for the print version. That could be a risky move, considering consumers—aware that digital copies don’t have the printing and distribution costs of the paper counterpart—have so far balked at paying same-as-print prices for digital single copies of magazines.
The digital-only edition costs $3.99 a month (SI didn’t list an annual subscription option in its announcement). On an annual basis, that works out to about $48, compared to the current average print subscription price of $46.