Murdoch: apps killing newspaper sales
Sales of newspaper apps for devices such as the Apple iPad are cannibalising sales of printed newspapers, according to News Corp chief James Murdoch.
News Corp closed its free Times website in June. The Times, The Sunday Times and Britain’s best-selling Sunday tabloid the News of the World – are now available online only to paying subscribers.
News Corp’s British newspaper arm, News International, said this month the titles had lost up to 90% of their online readership and now had 105,000 paying customers, including those who had bought the iPad and Amazon Kindle editions.
But he said apps for mobile devices, with which readers typically engage far more than they do with computer websites, were more dangerous to print sales.
“The problem with the apps is that they are much more directly cannibalistic of the print products than the website,” he said. “People interact with it much more like they do with the traditional product.”
Rupert Murdoch, News Corp’s chief executive and James’s father, has called the iPad a game-changer for news media, and many in the industry agree, thanks to the iPad’s large screen, high resolution and capacity for interactive features.
James Murdoch welcomed the opportunity to sell through Apple’s iTunes online store, despite the fact that Apple takes 30% of the publisher’s revenue.
“We go to the iTunes store because it’s frictionless. It charges a percentage but the guy on the newstand and the newsagent charge a percentage, and they don’t even merchandise it properly,” he told the Monaco Media Forum.
Apple began selling the tablet computer in April and had sold 7.5 million by the end of September. Other manufacturers have responded with their own tablets.