A “Hulu for Magazines”?

Do you love watching TV shows when and how you want? You have probably used Hulu or Netflix, especially if you are part of the millennial generation that loves to stream. Why do so many choose a service like Hulu? You can watch a show whenever you want, you can pick and choose episodes, and ads are limited. How does that transfer to the magazine industry? Next Issue Media took a stab at providing a Hulu-type service with magazines.

Back in 2009, Next Issue Media was created and then launched three years later in 2012. Haven’t heard of it? Essentially, it was built to be the “Hulu for magazines” with publication options from some of the world’s biggest publishers. It’s like picking and choosing which episodes you can watch of a show rather than subscribing to all of them. Similarly, Next Issue Media offered the ability to pick and choose issue subscriptions rather than having issues of a publication that you may not have any interest.

However, the concept didn’t really deliver or offer the expected results.  John Loughlin, from Hearst and Next Issue’s new CEO, wants to be able to organize and deliver information you may not find on other web platforms.  The new app, called Texture, went live October 1st. It presents different reading options for you based on magazines you have selected along with popular stories. Ever set-up a Twitter account? Than you most certainly have used a similar algorithm to determine your interests. Along with the old version, the new app continues to allow a normal magazine read through from cover to cover. Some of the biggest publishers have joined – Hearst, Conde Nast, Meredith, Time Inc., etc – allowing for a multitude of popular magazine options. It’s like a buffet for magazine reading: you pay one price for all you can read.

One reviewer, Simon Sage from Android Central, said the “general lack of interactivity in many issues is a let-down.” He compared it to Google Play Newsstand and their available magazines that are highly interactive, but concluded that Texture was overall a good value.  The interactivity to which Mr. Sage refers to includes items such as multimedia clips, web links and sharing snippets of text on social media.

A different reviewer from TechCrunch mentioned that Loughlin estimated 70% of content in the app is not available through free channels and, thus, publishers have to agree to offer more exclusive and early access articles.  While you may not find every magazine you ever wanted to read, essentially Texture is promising a high level service in that you will have access to content not on the free web and, furthermore, that content will be available to Texture users earlier than other magazine readers.

What does an app like Texture mean for print advertising? As you can see from the American Press Institute’s survey, only 29% of readers reported using a tablet versus 61% that received their news via magazines/newspapers.

PersNewsCycle-Exhibit-_03

Courtesy of American Press Institute Survey

Is early access content enough to shift readers from printed magazines to an app like Texture? Perhaps, but for now the survey results show more readers prefer print over their tablets.