If you’re an avid reader of ‘The Daily,’ I’ve got some bad news…
Starting on December 15th, the tablet-only publication will cease to exist. At least, it will cease to exist in its current form.
Despite the innovative mission statement that guided The Daily’ through its formative (and apparently unprofitable) years, the fairly popular app was declared a failure by parent company News Corp on Monday.
But get this: The Daily had a reported 100k paying subscribers and a 98% subscription renewal rate.
I won’t say that’s mind-blowing, but it’s definitely a healthy subscriber base, with a working retention strategy. Yet, it still failed. WHY?
According to Paid Content, Rupert Murdoch once said that The Daily would have needed 500k subscribers to break even. So it was basically a product that needed to either:
a.) Reach a mass market, OR
b.) Raise prices
That brings us to the primary reasons that The Daily, an idea that actually deserves some praise, ultimately flopped. It’s actually a really good case study…
It basically boils down to a paradox that was directly linked to the publication’s primary innovation — The Daily was a tablet-only publication, even though it needed a much larger audience to survive.
If you read The Daily, you know that it’s a well-designed app with good functionality. If that experience could have been mirrored on the web a year ago, it may have been able to overcome the $30M a year loss that it was generating. For some reason, ‘The Daily’ refused to re-imagine itself as a cross-platform app.
Other around the web have pointed out that The Daily also failed to identify a specific market. It was just kind of a “news” publication, a business model that’s proven to be a failure again and again in recent years. I like the way Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman put it:
“It was difficult to grasp who exactly was the intended audience of The Daily. It excelled at interactive elements and visual appeal, but the contents were so sprawling and varied that it was tough to know who this publication was speaking for and to…
Research has since shown that tablet owners are ‘digital omnivores’ who consume media seamlessly across tablets, smartphones, PCs and print publications. To serve them news on only one platform is not satisfying.”
As much as it may feel weird to mourn the loss of a News Corp. product, I really do feel like it’s kind of a bummer. The Daily really had some great features. But like a lot of startups, its best parts will be salvaged and live on… the rest will be tossed.