Are we really going to do the "news bundle" conversation yet again?

Oh, look the "iTunes/Spotify/Netflix for news" idea is on its annual outing.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Oh, dear. Not this again:

Imagine a bundled mobile product, for one reasonable price per month, that spits out new stories as they're published. Algorithms or humans could curate the articles to suit each reader's interests, promoting the "big" stories that will be conversation-drivers. In other words, think a subscription Twitter, but each account is a news organization (or subsections of a news organization), not an individual.

The iTunes / Spotify / Netflix (it changes over the years) idea keeps coming up. Rumour was that Murdoch was working on something like this before he put up the paywalls at his titles.

You want more proof? Here's Jemima Kiss writing about it for The Guardian a decade ago:

More than ten years after the first online news sites launched, executives are still huffing and puffing over the same industry issues, academically soul-searching about the direction of their businesses while still - with a few notable exceptions - failing to invest (even in terms of energy, rather than money) in innovation and new ideas that could help pull them out of their malaise.

A decade later, that point still holds. We're still looking for a "magic button" solution that will solve our revenue woes. And it still doesn't exist. It isn't Facebook. It isn't paywalls. It isn't a paid news aggregator. But it might include elements of all of these - and more.

As for this cable bundle for news, well, here's the problem: none of the big names are going to sign up for this, because they'll want to won the relationship with the readers - and many of them are doing it successfully anyway. Once you cross them off the list, you're left with a a bunch of mid-tier publishers fighting like rats in a sack for their cut of the revenue pool, while deprived of direct control over their own destiny.

As the original piece by Alex Sherman itself notes:

Apple is trying to play this role with its magazine application Texture, but sources say Apple has run into problems with untrusting media organizations that don't want to hand over the customer billing relationship. Controlling the consumer's buying decisions is important.

This is another "magic paywall" idea. It has no basis in reality.

bundlingnews aggregatorspaywallsbusiness models

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.