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On Rupert’s iPad: Times, Sky TV Show Different Charging Approaches

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The Times joined the Financial Times as the only national UK newspaper with a news app for iPad’s international launch Friday morning.

Yes, it’s pay-for, but there’s an entirely different pricepoint from the new websites, which will soon charge £1 a day, £2 a week or free with print…

It’s £9.99 every 28 days. But (and here’s where it may fall down) – these payments don’t link up with website payments. That means anyone who is paying to access the website must also pay the extra tenner a month for the same content on iPad, and vice versa.

Now, this may well be a result of an inability to link Apple’s iTunes Store billing systems with News Corp.’s own. But the Financial Times, which uses its own payment technology rather than Apple’s, has a platform-agnostic, pay-once strategy across its outlets.

“It is a shame and I feel it is somewhat of a scam,” wrote one early iTunes Store reviewer. “I like the look and feel of the app but will definitely not purchase again unless this is changed.”

A Times spokesperson tells us: “The Times iPad edition is a separate product to the new website, which is why it is priced differently. It is an edition of the paper edited and developed specifically for the iPad, which can be downloaded and read offline, for example.”

Of course, if an iPad reader is not the same customer as a web reader, then this isn’t a problem – something everyone’s yet to find out as the device beds down.

The Times’ iPad announcement today is accompanied by a story on how the iPad “may rewrite the future of newspapers”.

Its iPad app comes with “editions” for updates; a screengrab shows its “11pm edition”. Just as with the new websites, the iPad editions retain a strong Times newspaper brand identity, without resorting to a lazy, page-turner replica. Users rate it 3.5/5. The paper has now taken its existing iPhone news apps off the store.

Other UK newspapers have not embraced iPad’s international day one…

— The Guardian, though its has a photojournalism app, says it has no iPad news app, despite Apple’s main advertising campaigns heavily featuring the website.

— There’s no evident Daily Express app, despite that paper’s early promise to release one.

— The Metro freesheet is due to release an app.

— was saying nothing either way yesterday, perhaps suggesting an upcoming release.

— At least the Cheshire-based Congleton Chronicle is in full force, rolled out on the iPad version of Exact Editions’ existing iPhone app.

Elsewhere in News Corp (NYSE: NWS). BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) has updated its Sky Mobile TV iPhone app for iPad, with a hefty price premium…

Whilst the iPhone app costs just £6-a-month to non-Sky TV customers, for live Sky Sports channels, Sky Sports News and Sky News, the iPad app asks non-TV customers £35 a month and for TV customers to pay an extra £6.

This strategy is clearly designed to drive subscriptions to the satellite pay-TV service as a whole, rather than to consider the iPad in isolation. The app also uses in-house billing technology rather than iPhone OS’ auto-renewals.

But Sky Mobile TV at least ventures a multi-platform charging mechanism that The Times has not managed to deploy. The equivalent, for The Times, would have been to charge £10 a month, or even more, to non-subscribed readers, but to drop or reduce the charge for website subscribers. Still, News International is being pretty upfront that models may change as it learns over the course of time.

5 Responses to “On Rupert’s iPad: Times, Sky TV Show Different Charging Approaches”

  1. skytvspain

    Let us not forget that the moment your sky tv subscription ends or doesnt go through one month that all of your TV shows and movies that you have recorded on your hard drive go in to “lock down” you can see them but you cannot watch them…

    Why do that? Especialy if you have had a bad month, behind with payments, Bank screwing you over with charges and then the final insult SKY block all of your recorded content! Imagine your computer going in to lock down because you didnt pay BT? Is this a taste of things to come?

  2. Terry Purvis

    Mike, you can still do that on a humble PC connected to the Internet or not simply by allowing the caching of a web-page – and it’s the simplest thing in the world to package a whole “edition” as a “download” with no more than a few lines of code.

    So much fuss over nothing new.

  3. Hi Terry,

    Yes that is true everything online is downloaded, but the times ipad edition once downloaded does not require the internet to be read, it downloads the whole paper onto the ipad, and you can then read it whether connected to the internet or not, it is not an online paper.

  4. Terry Purvis

    “It is an edition of the paper edited and developed specifically for the iPad, which can be downloaded and read offline, for example.”

    Yet again, another giant media organisation shows they really know nothing about the very basics of the Internet at all.

    Everything is downloaded, even when viewing on a humble PC.

  5. Time Travel Writer

    It sounds complex. RSS is simple and now you have to buy an app to get a feed after you buy a new device to get appy. Brilliant or Black-hat? “iTunes terms have changed. Do I agree to “page 1 of 90″?! No wonder forcing terms on consumers has never been tested in the courts.”

    It’s terms of endearment until it isn’t. Are we going to ration the news and need apps to be well informed while ditching RSS? You agree to the terms, the terms change and you don’t know if you agree or disagree, so like Facebook everybody is upset with Apple and not too sure what to be upset about. They just know they are mad and aren’t going to take it anymore.