Earlier this year, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. announced that it was making a significant bet on tablet devices.
The bet: that an iPad-only news publication could launch and thrive at a time when many established news publications were struggling to survive.
"New times demand new journalism," Murdoch proclaimed. And with eight figures in investment in The Daily, he stated confidently, "we believe The Daily will be the model for how stories are told and consumed in this digital age".
Half a year later, however, The Daily appears to be off to a slower start than Murdoch may have anticipated.
According to John Nitti, EVP of Publicis Groupe SA's Zenith Optimedia, the iPad-only publication is currently averaging 120,000 readers per week.
He told Bloomberg that this figure includes both paying subscribers and non-paying subscribers who take advantage of The Daily's two week free trial, so the number of paying subscribers is almost certainly lower than 120,000.
Nitti, who was privy to The Daily's reader count as a result of Zenith Optimedia's involvement with Daily advertiser Verizon, believes that The Daily's reach is respectable and says his company's client will continue to buy advertising on The Daily, which has a list price of $100 CPM.
But, he added, "It’ll be interesting over the next six months, without the launch buzz how engagement continues."
For News Corp., The Daily is currently not a self-sufficient publication. As Bloomberg's Edmund Lee points out, Murdoch himself is on the record as stating that The Daily will need 500,000 subscribers just to break even.
Obviously, it's nowhere near that now, and it's hard to see how it will get that many subscribers any time soon. It's also difficult to believe that advertisers will continue to pony up anywhere near $100 CPM to advertise on The Daily unless its subscriber figures increase substantially and/or it can prove that The Daily's audience is absurdly superior.
Perhaps recognizing this, News Corp. is preparing to move The Daily beyond the iPad. It's distributing some of its stories to Facebook now, and an Android version will reportedly be released in the near future.
Which validates the point I made when The Daily first launched, it appears that Murdoch has missed the point...journalism itself is channel and platform-agnostic.
If The Daily is going to survive and thrive, it won't do so because it was on the iPad. As I have noted before, we live in a multichannel, multi-platform world and consumers want to consume their content on the devices of their choice.
If relegating The Daily to the iPad proved to be a good laboratory for News Corp., then perhaps Murdoch's initial strategy won't prove fatal. But make no mistake about it: The Daily's viability as a publication will be determined by whether News Corp. can drum up enough demand for it across multiple channels and platforms, not the iPad.