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NYT’s new audio app
Last week, The New York Times launched its standalone audio app after a year in private beta. A few key details:
The app features a mix of Times audio articles and podcasts, including a new show called The Headlines that’s only available in the app.
The app also includes feature-length audio stories from other publishers like New York Magazine, Outside, and Rolling Stone.
The app is only available with a Times subscription.
I’ve been using the app for the last couple days, and it’s a good product. The app is well-organized with a curated “Today” tab, a “Discovery” tab for exploring content, and a “Following” tab to keep up with your favorites. There’s a wide variety of content across topics, lengths, and formats. And throughout, the design is clean and strikingly visual.
Stephanie Preiss, who leads the audio business at The Times, said the app is an attempt to build more direct relationships with users: “We believe that—kind of similar to what we’ve done in text journalism, if you will—we can start to move our most engaged users into our own apps and platforms.”
We're in a moment when publishers are deprioritizing social platforms in favor of owned channels like email and websites. But in the audio space, distribution is still controlled by aggregators, namely Apple Podcasts and Spotify. As a result, monetizing audio is difficult—there’s limited listener data to support premium advertising and few features to enable a meaningful consumer revenue play.
With their new audio app, The Times has created the foundation for an owned & operated audio strategy. Going forward, they can experiment with different conversion tactics, such as new types of exclusive shows, and learn how usage of the audio app affects subscriber retention.
In the short term, the biggest challenge will be convincing a meaningful portion of Times subscribers to stop listening to its content on other audio platforms and start listening in NYT Audio. Bringing about this level of behavioral change is hard, especially with only limited exclusive content in the app.
For now, the app will likely be a tough sell for all but the most loyal Times listeners. But with a long enough time horizon, The Times can iterate its way toward success. It will be a winding path, but the prize – an owned audio platform – would be transformative.
Here’s the latest news in digital media:
Informa acquired Winsight for $380 million. Winsight, a B2B media and events business focused on the foodservice industry, employs about 300 people and expects 2023 EBITDA above $35 million. The acquisition adds to Informa’s portfolio of B2B brands and follows their acquisition of Industry Dive last year for $525 million.
Future’s H1 revenue declined 10% YOY. The UK-based media company also saw digital ad revenue fall by 18% and affiliate revenue decline by 5% (these YOY comparisons exclude revenue from acquisitions). Future’s new CEO Jon Steinberg, who previously founded Cheddar and served as president of BuzzFeed, sees a “huge” opportunity to grow US revenue, which currently represents 41% of the company’s total.
The Supreme Court sided with Google and Twitter. In two separate rulings last week, the court shielded the companies from liability over terrorist content promoted on their platforms. The rulings left intact Section 230, the law that more generally protects tech platforms from being sued over user-generated content.
More on publishers:
The FT sold its Pensions Expert brand to DG Publishing.
NYT launched enhanced bylines with information on how journalists reported a story.
Columbia J School is launching a loan repayment program for recent grads who work in nonprofit news.
More on AI:
According to a Newsguard analysis, the number of AI-generated news sites doubled in the past two weeks.
OpenAI launched a free ChatGPT app for iOS.
Apple, Verizon, and several large banks have restricted employee access to ChatGPT.
More on platforms:
Google is planning to disable 3rd-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users in early 2024.
ESPN is making plans to offer a streaming option for its flagship channel.
GroupM no longer considers Twitter “high risk” after new CEO Linda Yaccarino was announced.
Netflix has signed up nearly 5 million customers on its ad-supported tier.
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