Monday, October 5, 2009

Should Magazines Follow The Hulu Model?

It seems print media wants a recharge and they think aggregating their digital content onto one site, a la Hulu, is the solution. "The new service, as yet unnamed, would serve as a digital storefront for magazines, possibly newspapers and other publications and is expected to be announced in about a month. The launch is planned for 2010, people familiar with the plan said." And I ask why.

Hulu is fraught with problems for the video industry. it offers free content, and enables consumers to drop their cable subscription for free programming. Hulu takes viewers away from the networks own brand into a new one. Thus you can watch The Office without caring whether it came from NBC or Fox or somewhere else. It disrupts the current subscription model, not extends it. The TV everywhere concept at least attempts to force consumers to first be subscribers before they get to view content.

So why buy the magazine if the content is free elsewhere? And how can individual print brands be maintained as this new entity develops an overlaying umbrella brand? And finally, why will the consumer subscribe, if the content is free? Rather, these same content creators should instead pursue a store approach that competes with Amazon and Apple and sells digital copies of their pages over different media devices. Support Kindle, E-reader, Iphone, and others with both a digital and print copy for one low price. Offer single copies and subscriptions at different price points and benefits. Use these readers to your advantage; they are the future for printed content. A Hulu-like web site is not the best solution.

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