Print publications continue to struggle in some ways to remain relevant in a digital world, while still maintaining a strong business model in other areas of the entertainment industry. Local newspapers and specialty magazines remain very popular in print format, while national newspapers and general purpose magazines are struggling to find a balance between digital and print offerings.
In 2011, Next Issue Media launched a service that could only be described as a Netflix-type service for magazines. It is an app that allows users access to over 100 magazines with a single monthly subscription. It is an idea that, on the surface, sounds like a sound business model that would appeal to fans of magazines. But in reality, Next Issue Media has struggled to break the 200,000 subscription mark and it looks like the Netflix of magazines is not going to find long-term success.
Is It Really A Value?
The price for a premium subscription for Next Issue Media, which gives you access to around 140 magazine titles, is $15 per month, or $180 per year. It sounds like a great deal, until you really start thinking about the magazines you actually read on a regular basis. If you are partial to reading Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine, then you would only have to pay $69 per year for app subscriptions to those publications. That means you are essentially wasting $111 per year for magazines you would never read.
Next Issue Media is finding it extremely difficult to offer a subscription price that allows it to make a profit and still appeal to magazine fans of all kinds. Next Issue Media is more like a buffet than Netflix. You pay one price for a buffet because you think it is a great deal, but you wind up eating less than you would if you had gone to a regular restaurant. The result is a waste of money that degrades the perceived value of the service.
Customers Want A True Digital Format
According to CNet Magazine, the other problem with a service like Next Issue Media is the primitive nature of its user interface. Netflix has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into its intuitive software that suggests movies for viewers and helps customers to create a list of movies that it wants to watch later. But Next Issue Media does not have the resources to invest in a slick interface, which makes its offering less appealing.
Most of the Netflix-like magazine apps use the standard newsstand layout for its magazines and the magazines themselves are large PDF files that can take a long time to load. Without true digital content, magazine apps cannot offer the intuitive type of service that Netflix offers and that tends to turn customers away from services such as Next Issue Media.
The lesson to learn from the struggles of Next Issue Media is that offering customers an app with a wide selection of options is simply not enough. People want intuitive programs that offer value and help them to make selections based on their viewing and reading habits. If you intend to offer any kind of broad-reaching magazine app for your customers, it is important to invest in creating something that offers quality, instead of relying solely on quantity to attract users.