Time Inc have announced that they will launch Maghound in September. This will offer a Netflix style subscription model, where for a flat fee users can pick and choose the magazines they want that month.
I think this is brilliant.
Netflix has been a fantastic success. However, there is one possible iceberg on the horizon – the adoption of digital downloads. But the beauty of Maghound is that this shouldn’t affect them (aside from possible downward effects the Internet has on magazine consumption as a whole). The USP of a magazine is now its physicality – the ability to pick it up, carry it about, tear it, crease it and generally immerse oneself in it in a way that is difficult to do with the quick-fix Internet.
As with some many recent innovations, this move takes the power away from the producer and assigns it to the consumer. No longer will unwanted subscriptions fill up the letterbox and empty out the bank account. Now a wider range of titles can be sampled, and advertisers can be assured that people are opting in to the title. And these people are likely to be those harder to reach people that dip into magazines occasionally rather than regularly.
Interestingly, the auditing bodies will be viewing these as single-sale copies. And while Time Inc say that they won’t be divulging user information to 3rd parties, there is of course the possibility to collect and use the information for targeted advertising within the magazines.
Three things need to be implemented competently for the scheme to succeed
- The pricing model needs to be set at an attractive level – to me, it seems to be
- Site design and usability needs to be a priority
- It needs to be marketed as a complement, not a replacement, for traditional subscriptions
And if it really takes off, we could see a Netflix style community emerge