Short Takes: The Daily’s Got a Problem

The question everyone wants to know is how many people actually read News Corp’s high-profile stab at tablet publishing, The Daily? The answer: not nearly enough. Edmund Lee, formerly of Ad Age and now with Bloomberg, got a particularly chatty Zenith Optimedia buyer John Nitti to go on the record that the figure is 120,000 unique readers per week. This would put The Daily nowhere near the 500,000 readers Rupert Murdoch estimated it needs to break even. Kudos to Lee for prying the information out of an ad buyer — and on the record to boot. If the figure is accurate, The Daily might not be long for this world. Staci Kramer at PaidContent reports that one third of the readers are freebies. That’s unsustainable. That’s also too bad. The Daily was a surprisingly bold early move from an old-line publisher to use an unproven new technology. With Amazon entering the tablet market with a cheap tablet — publisher Greg Clayman told the Digiday Mobile conference last week that The Daily would work with tablet platforms outside of Apple’s — the market is sure to continue its breakneck growth. The question is whether News Corp will have the patience to wait until it finds its audience, or if it will cut its losses and chalk it up as a worth, if prohibitively expensive R&D effort.

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