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Time is Removing its Paywall
Here’s the latest news in digital media:
Time is removing its paywall. At a moment when many publishers are leaning further into digital subscriptions, Time is going the other direction. The company will focus on ads, events, and licensing, as well as TV & film, which now represents around 25% of revenue.
The Athletic is selling three books. The books – published in collaboration with HarperCollins and titled The Football 100, The Basketball 100, and The Hockey 100 – profile the top players of all time, building on a series of features that The Athletic published in 2021.
Lenfest examined cancellation workflows. Lenfest’s Charles Jun shared insights and screenshots after going through the cancellation processes for 22 publications. Roughly two-thirds of subscriptions were relatively easy to cancel, and the rest required complicated workarounds. At the Boston Globe, 60% of cancellations occur online, and 30% of people who request to cancel online remain subscribed after being offered a discount.
HearstLab invested in a podcast measurement startup. The startup, called Barometer, uses AI to determine which podcasts are good advertising opportunities for a brand. HearstLab, which invests in women-led companies, has funded in almost 60 companies since 2016, leveraging a 5-person team and a “scout network” of 150 women.
More publishers are experimenting with AI. 1) German publisher KStA Media uses AI to recommend articles, as well as to dynamically set price floors for its programmatic inventory. 2) Ingenio, which publishes Horoscope.com and Astrology.com, has used AI to publish more than 11,000 SEO-oriented articles. 3) Team Whistle, a sports & entertainment brand, is using AI to summarize YouTube videos in text articles.
Let’s talk about AI summarizing news articles.
I’ve been playing around with the new feature in Artifact…
Here's how it works: After tapping a story and selecting the "Summarize" button, three bullet points appear and summarize the article's key points.
AI features like this raise all sorts of questions about accuracy and fair use, not to mention the scary prospect of disintermediating publishers. For now, I want to focus on the user experience, as it will play a large role in determining how the AI ecosystem evolves more broadly.
As a reader, my initial reaction to Artifact’s summaries was quite positive. The three bullets consistently gave me the gist and helped me decide whether to read the full article – doing so better than the article’s headline, sub-head, and initial text.
It’s not hard to imagine how Artifact could move the summaries directly into the app’s “for you” feed. It might remind us of Circa, the failed news aggregator app that surfaced small bits of articles and never gained traction. Unlike Circa, Artifact can use advanced AI to personalize content and write in styles that are more engaging than Circa’s bland bullets. (Already, Artifact offers summaries in “Gen Z” and “Explain Like I’m Five” styles.)
At present, the publishing ecosystem runs on clicks – whether on social media, search, or a publisher’s site – which incentivize headlines that intrigue, rather than inform. From a reader perspective, there are many places across the web where a summary would be a welcome replacement to a headline.
As AI shifts the ground in media, we’re trying to figure out where to plant our stake as publishers. When we do, it’ll be a good bet to find places where the interests of publishers and readers align.
And here’s more news from around the industry.
The Arizona Daily Star laid off nearly 25% of staff.
Paper Magazine laid off 20 to 30 staff and will cease editorial operations for now.
33% of publishers said they are “very” or “completely” prepared for the end of cookies.
Obituaries are attracting views on YouTube.
Amazon’s programmatic ad solution will likely begin taking a larger cut from publishers.
Tik Tok is working on a feature to enable AI-generated profile pictures.
Disney filed a lawsuit against Ron DeSantis.
Meta grew revenue by 3% in Q1.
Tubi’s founder is leaving the company.
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