Are the NFL and Digital Publishing Headed in Opposite Directions?

Phoenix-based MVP Media LLC just launched what it says is the first iPad-exclusive national sports magazine, MVP Magazine, with a cover bound to capture the attention of any football fan. The inaugural cover story, “The NFL is Dead,” considers the myriad challenges faced by the league, and whether they are potentially fatal. It’s old-school magazine stuff in a new frame, begging the questions: Why iPad only? and Why now?

Publishing Business Today ran these and other queries by Publisher Ron Matejko, along the way getting his take on major issues in the digital magazine space.

Publishing Business Today: Why did you decide now was a good time for an iPad-exclusive sports magazine?

Ron Matejko: We’ve had our eye on launching MVP Magazine since the iPad first showed firm signals of gaining critical mass. However, there were three factors that ultimately told us when it was time to pull the trigger.

The first factor was the advent of the Apple Newsstand and the resulting rapid increase in digital magazine sales. We are hopeful Apple will eventually add a search function, which will make Newsstand an even more effective distribution channel for digital magazine publishers.

Second, was the rapid worldwide adoption of tablet computing and the impressive projected future sales of these products.

Third, was the huge audience that has developed for consuming news and sports information on the tablet in combination with their willingness to purchase and read digital magazines. We wanted to be first to market with an iPad only national sports magazine but recognized that timing was just as important as being first.

There is no more debate about whether or not digital publishing is for real. We are only at the early stages of a true opportunity for new players to enter the space and innovate an industry. It will be new companies that raise the bar higher, much like with web 2.0 when media companies such as Gawker Media, The Huffington Post, Yahoo! and The Drudge Report, to name just a few, did so with Internet media. MVP Media aims to be among those that do the same with digital publishing.

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