The Seattle Times has a couple of niche sports apps on the market right now and both are doing very well. As a newspaper guy, this is exciting. There is likely a future here for newspapers and plenty of money to be made. Identify a niche audience (that you already write for) and develop an app that caters to their interests. I’d pay lots of money for these Seattle Times apps, they are that good.
I have a journalism degree and daily newspaper experience, but I’m also a digital media nut and a huge Husky football fan. Imagine my euphoria when I first saw the Seattle Times was launching a Husky football app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Their Husky football blog is like the Bible to me, and an iPhone app sounded too good to be true.
But how useful would it be? Would I trust the content? How about the functionality? I didn’t want this to be a giant advertisement for the Seattle Times. I wanted it to be all Huskies all the time. One season in, I’m happy to report this is purple and gold nirvana. It’s the most immersive, accessible and, of course, portable Husky football experience I have ever known. Thank you, Seattle Times!
OK, OK. Enough gushing.
I respect this app. It’s a big step for journalism and the newspaper industry in general. Readership is down across the country. Revenue is shrinking, and newspapers are struggling to reach new audiences in a digital age that crippled their business model long ago. Enter the niche app. This is a new dawn for newspapers.
I could already find the information and stories featured in this app on my iPhone using mobile Safari. But I don’t always want to tap dance through various bookmarks and zoom in to the content I want to read. The app puts it all in one place. It costs $2.99 for a one-time download, but I would pay $2.99 a month for this. I’m not the only one, either. Managing Editor Heidi de Laubenfels told Lost Remote the app reached “20 percent of our total expected sales in the first two days and continues to do quite well.” The Times’ latest app, one for the Husky men’s basketball season, currently ranks on the iTunes list for top paid sports apps.
My question initially was whether or not I would trust a similar app released by a non-objective news source. The UW Athletic Department did just this, releasing a Coach Sark app not long after the Seattle Times released its football app. The content, not surprisingly, was not as deep. The interface was wonky, and it wasn’t objective in the slightest. Not even the fact that proceeds from the $2.99 purchase went to charity could rescue this app from the bottom of the league standings.
Time and trust are in limited supply these days. The Seattle Times is an organization I trust and provides me with content I believe in. Newspapers everywhere should take notice of this endeavor. Find a market—foodies, concertgoers, American Idol-lovers—and meet them where they are. Smartphones are growing exponentially and apps such as this are, hopefully, a sign of things to come.
I love free stuff, but this is the kind of content I want and will pay for. Are you listening, newspaper executives? I would pay for this. I would pay monthly. And I would pay a lot more than $2.99.