Newspaper publishers keen for overdose of tablets

The recent announcements by Tesco and Argos that they are entering the tablet market should delight parents up and down the country who nervously hand over their expensive iPads for their children to play with.

The Hudl, which sounds uncannily like The Lidl, and the MyTablet are priced in the £100- £120 range and should find themselves under many a tree this Christmas.  At the other end of the market, Apple yesterday (22 October) announced their latest tablet incarnations including the iPad Air.  Indeed, 30% of us currently own a tablet, a figure which has tripled in just 12 months, and so we may expect nearly half of us having one by the New Year.

All this should be great news for newspaper publishers.  In a climate of circulation declines and rising business costs, more and more publishers are focussing on a digital strategy and creating new job titles such as ‘Content Director’. 

There are also calls for traditional industry measurement tools to provide mobile and tablet readership figures more quickly. The National Readership Survey (NRS) reports that 7.6m adults (15%) have accessed newspapers on tablets, e-readers or apps in the last 12 months.  Although this represents a rise of 50% in 12 months, it is still a relatively small proportion of the population on which to use as a base for more granular data by title.  News UK have stated that The Sunday Times regularly gets 90,000 downloads of its subscription-based tablet app and 70,000 for The Times and, notwithstanding the relative success of Mail Online (2.1m daily website audience), it is likely that more publisher brands will take the subscription route.  The NRS is currently measuring four-platform (print, online, mobile and tablet) readership for the larger publisher brands.

Nevertheless, in an industry where we are led to believe that print is dying and tablets are the saviour, it is always refreshing to be reminded why print has stood the test of time and that reports of its imminent death have been greatly exaggerated.  The tablet, currently the toy of the affluent, will become a cheaper, mass market device whereas, some say, the printed newspaper will eventually be seen as a symbol of status and wealth – and perhaps one day an eagerly anticipated Christmas present!

John Carroll is a senior director in Ipsos MediaCT (@MediaCarroll)

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