Accuracy in Media

Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch has committed $26 million-a-year to his iPad newspaper The Daily, but so far all it appears to be is a giant money pit.

According to Mogulite, The Daily’s publisher reported this week that the app was closing on its one millionth download. That’s a pretty big number but as Mogulite points out, the app is free. Just because one million people downloaded the app doesn’t mean they actually subscribed to The Daily.

If everyone did subscribe at 99-cents per week that would be a tidy sum for Murdoch, but all indications are that people are less than willing to shell out any money for a subscription.

The best indication so far is a report from Jeff Bercovici of Forbes who reported last month that the app had been downloaded 500,000 times and 75,000 people opted to subscribe.  If we extrapolate from those numbers the current number of downloads then it would be reasonable to assume that The Daily has somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 subscribers, which is a far cry from its 750,000 break-even point.

It’s still a mystery why Murdoch would spend so much money on such a fruitless enterprise except to feed his own ego.

The iPad app world is filled with plenty of newspapers that don’t charge a subscription fee — USA Today, The Washington Post and others — or provide limited free content like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The question is why anyone would want to pay for The Daily which is updated only once a day.

Murdoch apparently is willing to burn a lot of cash on this venture but all that he is likely to get from it is a shiny new iPad app and a lot less money in the bank.


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