Since the concept of digital magazines surfaced more than a decade ago, it has remained unclear when, where, how and even whether consumers really wanted a print-like experience on digital screens. Zinio, tablet editions and Apple Newsstand all have thrown various business and consumption models at this problem, but they were mired in legacy models of single issue sales or individual title subscriptions. The response has been tepid at best.
In recent years, however, Netflix-style, all-you-can-read models from companies like international distributor Magzter and the U.S. magazine publisher joint venture Next Issue/Texture appear to be gaining traction. But are Netflix and Spotify bingeing behaviors, which are key to this model’s success, applicable to magazines?
What habits, if any, are forming in these apps and digi-mags? John Loughlin, CEO of Next Issue, has some answers. “The average Texture reader spends 80 minutes a week in the app,” he says. Loughlin shared some of the first hard numbers I have seen regarding smorgasbord reading behaviors, and they are compelling. While the stat is self-reported, Loughlin says it’s affirmed by harder in-app metrics. The average new subscriber typically reads 4 to 6 of the 200 titles offered per month. But within six months, that number spikes to 8 to 12, and overall time spent in the app expands 60%.
This is good news for participating publishers, who share in the subscription revenue based on time spent with their titles. In the last 18 months, Next Issue has given more than $22 million in revenue to its magazine partners, Loughlin says.