Rogers Media has partnered with Next Issue Media, a company formed and run by U.S. publishers, to deliver its magazine content to Canadians on their tablets via an “all-you-can-read” subscription service.
Next Issue Canada, which will be available Oct. 15, will give monthly paid subscribers unlimited access to more than 100 magazines via a single tablet app. The service will include both Rogers’ own titles (such as Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Sportsnet, MoneySense, and Canadian Business) as well as popular American titles from Hearst, Condé Nast, Time Inc., NewsCorp and Meredith. (The five U.S. publishers formed Next Issue Media in 2009 as a consortium.)
Available American titles will include Vanity Fair, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Time and The New Yorker, among others.
On Oct. 15, Next Issue Canada’s digital newsstand will be available exclusively to Rogers wireless and cable customers on iPads, Android tablets and Win8 devices for a free two-month trial. (U.S. Next Issue subscribers will also get access to Rogers’ magazines through the platform on the same date.) It will open up to all Canadians on Dec. 15, when they can try it for free for the first month. The app will roll out in English first; a French version will be released next year.
For $9.99 each month, Next Issue Canada subscribers will have unlimited access to participating monthly publications. (Thirteen Rogers’ magazines will be included in the library at launch.) A premium subscription of $14.99 will also give them access to weekly magazines. All subscribers will have access to digitized back issues of participating publications.
Rogers Publishing president Ken Whyte has been named Next Issue Canada’s president. Speaking with Marketing on Thursday, he said while details of how the revenue will be split are confidential, they will be divided between Rogers, Next Issue and the various Rogers’ publications on the platform.
The way the revenue from subscriptions is shared will be based on the amount of time people spend on each of the various magazines. “It’s based on dwell time,” said Whyte. “If you’re a user of Next Issue, the amount of time you spend on a particular magazine [affects] how much of your subscription goes to a particular brand.” So if Flare or GQ has a month with especially high dwell times, they’ll get proportionally more revenue.
Next Issue first launched its “all you can eat” model in April 2012 in the U.S. on select Android devices. By the time it went live on iPad devices in July 2012, about 15,000 consumers were using Next Issue. In spring 2013, Forbes reported the service had 120,000 subscribers, but about 70,000 are subscribers through existing print subscriptions. The remaining 50,000 were true Next Issue digital subscribers.
By comparison, about half a million people subscribed to the New York Times within its first year of launching a paywall, which currently costs $8.75 a week for unlimited access.
Forbes reports that the company currently divides subscription revenues among the five publishers (60%) and the Silicon Valley startup (40%) they work with.
Whyte said in a release that he believes the Next Issue platform is “the future of magazine content consumption,” and “retains the best of print while making the content come to life vividly, giving readers a more personalized, interactive experience.”
It was also announced that Whyte is leaving the Rogers Publishing organization to work on Next Issue full time. Rogers Media president Keith Pelley assumes his managerial role on an interim basis.
This partnership marks the first time Next Issue’s platform has been rolled out beyond the U.S., and sees Whyte and Melinda Rogers, senior vice-president of strategy and development at Rogers, join the board of directors.
Pelley said the company’s investment in the platform “reinforces our commitment to our digital future and the magazine industry.”
A massive marketing campaign for Next Issue Canada will start to roll out on the day it becomes available to Rogers’ customers.
“We’re bringing the full force of Rogers to this,” said Whyte. “We’re spending more on it than we do on all of our publishing marketing combined… You’re going to see Next Issue on your billing communications if you’re a wireless customer, if you go into a store to buy a cell phone, and on all of our broadcast and publishing and digital media.” There will also be an external media campaign that goes beyond Rogers properties.
Rogers Media’s publishing division also produces Marketing magazine.