News Corp. unveiled The Daily with much fanfare a year ago, with Rupert Murdoch himself on hand at the New York launch event for the ambitious iPad-only newspaper. The News Corp. chairman set the bar high from the start, saying The Daily would have to pull in 500,000 paying subscribers to be viable, given its weekly operating costs of $500,000.
On its one-year anniversary earlier this month, the company announced the publication had amassed 100,000 paid subscribers to date, making it the third top-grossing iPad app in the iTunes Store last year. It’s now the top-grossing app. Still, the paid subscribers level to date is well below the half-million goal set by Murdoch last year.
Speaking at MediaPost’s Tablet Revolution conference Thursday, Daily publisher Greg Clayman didn’t discuss whether the publication’s business model is sustainable, given the sizeable investment behind it. He stressed that the 100,000 subs The Daily has drawn so far shows that people are willing to pay for content. He pointed to the hundreds of thousands of digital subscribers The New York Times has attracted since putting up a paywall last year as further evidence of that point.
Clayman also shared other user benchmarks. Of the 100,000 paid subs, he said 55% pay the annual rate of $39.99, and the rest pay the weekly subscription fee of 99 cents. The publication, which offers 120 pages of original content each day, has 250,000 monthly readers that each spend about 20 to 30 minutes a day with it.
While The Daily launched with an emphasis on video and slick graphics, Clayman said video has proven an even bigger draw than expected. About 30% to 40% watch video regularly. “The typical reader is not the 24-year-old hipster living in Williamsburg, it’s their parents living in Royal Oak, Michigan, he said. Readers are likely to be in the 35-50 age range, highly educated, and with household incomes of $100,000 to $200,000 annually. They use the Internet more than the general population.
When it comes to working with advertisers, he noted The Daily is increasingly trying to help brands standardize campaigns across different iPad magazines and newspapers. Clayman did not provide any ad revenue stats.
The Daily is also pushing into custom publishing. It has already created a gadget guide, a publication tied to college football’s National Championship Game, and has in the works a guide for Rovio’s upcoming launch of “Angry Birds Space.”