Cable bundling is bad for consumers. We can all agree on that. Fortunately, consumers are voting for Netflix et al with their wallets, and will in the process, eventually, kill this model.
But what about Magazine bundling? In other words, what if you could read tens of magazines for a flat monthly fee?
That has legs and some serious growth potential thinks KKR, the major Private Equity firm, which just invested $50m in Next Issue. As Steve Perlberg at the WSJ writes on CMO today:
Call it the Netflix of magazines. Next Issue Media, a subscription service where readers can have access to as many as 145 magazines for a monthly fee, has closed a $50 million financing round with KKR, WSJ reports. The private-equity behemoth — which will take a minority stake in the company — is hoping that magazine readers will show the same love toward the subscription model as music-lovers have to Spotify, book-readers to Oyster, or TV-watchers to Netflix. Next Issue Media has quietly gained more than 150,000 subscribers, who can pay $9.99 a month for publications including Vogue, Esquire, and Fortune, and tack on $5 more for weeklies like the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated. Publishers, for their part, receive a portion of the revenue based on how much time readers spend with their content — an incentive to publish quality stories at a time when the economics of web publishing often encourages a race to the bottom of lowbrow, yet popular and “shareable”, content.
The biggest differentiator vs cable bundling is that if someone wanted to just read 3 or 2 or even 1 of the magazines in the bundle, they can go get them directly from the publisher – something that is not possible with cable today. And that’s a good thing.
Still, with reading itself shrinking, I can’t help but wonder if growth for this model will be capped beyond the hard-core-reader market…