Buried in a lengthy press release about News Corp’s long-proposed business separation, the company unceremoniously announced the end of The Daily, its experimental iPad-only news app.
Production of the Daily’s iPad app will cease on December 15, 2012, though News Corp says its brand will “live on” in other properties. Additionally, News Corp’s experience with The Daily won’t go to waste — the company says technology and “other assets,” including some staff, from the app will move to the New York Post. The Daily publisher Greg Clayman will lead News Corp’s digital strategy.
The news isn’t a huge surprise since The Daily cut 30 percent of its staff in July. The Daily launched in February 2011 and reportedly cost News Corp about $30 million a year. It eventually made its way to a few Verizon Android tablets, as well as Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The plan was to break even after five years — but it appears The Daily’s slow growth made that plan unsustainable.
As the first all-iPad magazine, The Daily also saw some initial support from Apple. Eddy Cue, vice president of interactive services at Apple, joined Murdoch on stage to launch the app. But even from the beginning, it seemed like a big production for a fairly limited market. After testing it out for a few weeks, I let my Daily subscription lapse and never gave it a second thought.
“From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation,” News Corp chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said in a statement today. “Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term. Therefore we will take the very best of what we have learned at The Daily and apply it to all our properties.”
News Corp announced back in June that it would split into two separate publicly traded companies. Today the company revealed that its future publishing arm will retain the name News Corp, while the entertainment arm will be called Fox Group. Murdoch will continue to serve as chairman of News Corp, but will be handing the chief executive role to Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of the Wall Street Journal. Murdoch will serve as chairman and CEO for Fox Group.
Cameron Yuill, chief executive of AdGent Digital, says the failure of The Daily came down to a simple math problem:
Not enough subscribers to cover the cost of production and distribution (Apple’s 30% fee). The Daily had reportedly 100,000 subscribers at $40 per year which by my math is only $4 million annually. The mistake News Corp. made was hiring (expensive) editorial, journalists and technologists to build and provide content for the newspaper. No doubt overhead was way in excess of income. Murdoch has made the decision that The Daily is not growing fast enough to ever have a chance of covering its costs, let alone making a profit. So The Daily bites the dust. Fair enough.