Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., and Time Inc. team to create ‘Hulu for Magazines’

Apple Sale“The magazine industry is finally ready to announce that they are forming a JV [joint venture] to distribute and sell digital versions of their products,” Peter Kafka reports for AllThingsD.

“All of this is conceptual at this stage — the companies now need to go about the business of actually assembling technology that will let them do this,” Kafka reports. “Some people don’t like my description of this as ‘Hulu for Magazines,’ but let me spell it out for them: Like Hulu, this is a joint venture of content owners that is designed to control distribution and sale of their product instead of ceding that to digital powerhouses like Apple, Amazon. Easy to understand, right?”

Kafka reports, “The question is whether Apple and Amazon, in particular, will let someone else control the sale of digital media via their storefront and onto their devices. Publishing executives I’ve talked think that Apple may end up being receptive to the idea, but Amazon is clearly going to be a problem.”

Full article here.

The press release, verbatim:


Initiative Will also Offer Marketers Rich Array of Innovative Advertising Opportunities

New York, NY, December 8, 2009 – Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. today jointly announced that they have entered into an independent venture to develop open standards for a new digital storefront and related technology that will allow consumers to enjoy their favorite media content on portable digital devices.

The goal of this digital initiative is fourfold, to create: a highly featured common reading application capable of rendering the distinctive look and feel of each publication; a robust publishing platform optimized for multiple devices, operating systems and screen sizes; a consumer storefront offering an extensive selection of reading options; and a rich array of innovative advertising opportunities.

Beyond the publications of the equity partners, the venture will welcome other publishers to offer their content via this new digital platform. Publishers will derive revenue from content and advertising sales, as well as from print subscriptions.

“For the consumer, this digital initiative will provide access to an extraordinary selection of engaging content products, all customized for easy download on the device of their choice, including smartphones, e-readers and laptops,” explained John Squires, the venture’s interim managing director. “Once purchased, this content will be ‘unlocked’ for consumers to enjoy anywhere, anytime, on any platform.”

For publishers and advertisers, the venture will offer an attractive, cost-efficient, consumer-focused environment. Advertisers will be able to utilize innovative formats that benefit from the highly engaging, interactive nature of this new medium. In addition to entirely new magazine and newspaper reading experiences, content selections may ultimately include books, comic books, blogs and other media.

For the hardware, software and retail industries, the initiative will provide dynamic new business opportunities by organizing a library of quality content with a common format and technical specifications. The venture partners represent an unduplicated audience of 144.6 million according to Mediamark Research & Intelligence. By the end of 2010, Forrester Research estimates that 10 million e-readers will be sold in the U.S., and according to m:Metrics (comScore), there will be over 50 million smartphones in the U.S. by the end of 2010.

Source: Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc.

Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated demo video mockup:

Direct link to video via YouTube here.


  1. Have they even decided on a format?

    This seems hastily arranged out of fear. Let’s just agree to form a cartel so whatever comes of the big print-to-digital transition, we’ll be united and firmly in control. That mean old Steve Jobs won’t get us like he did the music guys.

  2. A “cartel” is a formal (explicit) agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization of producers that agree to coordinate prices, marketing and production, as in Colombian Drug Cartel.

  3. Are they planning to lose money as fast as hulu? Did they research how much income nbc used to make from iTunes? Would print be any different? Do content providers understand Apple saved the music labels?

  4. “to create: a highly featured common reading application capable of rendering the distinctive look and feel of each publication”. Wouldn’t that be a browser?

  5. I think that this is a direct result of Apple making the rounds. I suspect they advised the magazines to find some common ground, and that this venture will plug into Apple’s new tablet. I think Apple did the magazines a favor and got them off their asses so they are ready for the future…

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