Classic Print Business Models Influence Convergent Media: CNOW.tv Adopts a Magazine Subscription Model
What are the animating principles of today's convergent media?
Like everyone else in our business, I get drawn in to the ongoing conversation about this dying and that dying. But in most of such conversations in which I participate, we tend to conclude that what is happening in media today is less about things dying and more about things changing. And as they change, rather than fully edging one another out, the various forms of media learn and share and steal and borrow from one another.
One way I see this unfolding is the way convergent media businesses are adapting print publishing approaches to marketing non-print products. Videogame development and distribution is one medium in which you can increasingly see the impact of print publishing business models.
And one thing I notice: while Apple and the iPad has not, as yet, had as revolutionizing an effect on the magazine publishing business as publishers may have hoped, the digital distribution model it helped pioneer has had a huge impact on the online convergence of other forms of media. TV and videogames are two.
My daughter DuCiel Spitzfaden, a videogame designer, is modeling the marketing and distribution of her independent videogame, Project Swordsmith, using technologies that were not available in a pre-convergent-media world. Project Swordsmith will be released episodically, like a magazine subscription. Fans can buy the game in single copy format, at $6.99 per episode, or as a subscription for $29.99 for the entire season.
The advent of low-cost digital distribution systems has made such a business model feasible in a way it never was in the past. Game publisher Telltale Games uses this formula for distribution through the Apple store; digital distributor Steam provides a cross-platform, episodic games functionality.
CNOW.tv, based in Bradford, Vermont, is doing something similar with the creation and distribution of its programming. The internet television network creates content for enthusiasts on niche topics. Following the evolution of magazines from general-interest, mass market to niche magazines with a focus on information with practical applications to special interests, CNOW.tv produces television clips valuable to special interest audiences.
Yoga NOW, CNOW.tv's current production focus, is an interview-style show with segments with practical demonstrations -- yoga poses, healthy cooking, and eating tips. An earlier production called The Drumming Show was focused on education and motivation for beginning and intermediate drummers.
The subscription magazine industry is at the heart of the business model for CNOW.tv; monthly show episodes are available individually; discounted year-long subscriptions are also available. The network is experimenting with live-streaming of events aligned to a particular niche with on-demand viewing after the event. Having found its rhythm in developing and producing episodes, the network is pushing forward to improve its marketing process and make discoverability of shows much easier for its audiences.
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.