Sports Illustrated Offers All Access Subscriptions for Android (No iPad)

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Sports Illustrated announced Friday a new all-access subscription plan for the magazine fittingly called “All Access.” The subscription plan will allow customers to read SI in print, online, and on Android tablets and smartphones - iOS devices need not apply, including the genre-defining tablet known colloquially as “iPad.”

Sports Illustrated All Access

Sports Illustrated “All Access” Subscriptions - Wither iPad in This Picture?

The announcement comes amidst a (mostly) behind-the-scenes battle between publishers and Apple on how subscription models will work, with Apple being rumored to want to forbid any kind of subscription access through iOS apps unless the subscription is handled in-app, where Apple controls the transaction and gets a cut.

We don’t actually know if Apple is planning such a structure for subscriptions, but the only publication to yet offer subscriptions on the iPad — News Corp.’s The Daily — follows this model. Publishers want access to subscriber info, and aren’t keen on sharing 30% of the subscription with Apple.

In that light, some mainstream columnists are already characterizing today’s Android-centric “All Access” announcement as being part of Time Inc.’s — one of the largest publishers in the world — strategy to gain better terms from Apple.

Of course, SI does have a presence in the App Store in the form of Sports Illustrated Magazine. This app offers access to the entire magazine, but one must make an in-app purchase for each issue. The holy grail for newspaper and magazine publishers alike have been to get readers to subscribe to the digital forms of these publications, which is where the behind-the-scenes negotiations and jockeying stem from.

Back to Friday’s All Access announcement, Time officially released new apps for Samsung’s Galaxy tablet (note the necessity to specify the app for a single Android tablet, but that’s another story) and Android smartphones. Readers can access SI issues through these apps in one of three ways:

  • Print/Digital (Samsung Galaxy/Android Smartphone/Web): $48 annually or $4.99/month
  • Digital Only: $3.99/month
  • Current print subscribers have free access to the digital package throughout the remainder of their term

“This is a significant step in delivering Sports Illustrated’s award-winning journalism to sports fans everywhere and in any way they want it,” Mark Ford, Time Inc. EVP and President of its Sports Group, said in a statement. “The new subscription options give consumers flexibility and convenience they desire and ensures that our multiple revenue streams continue to grow.”

We should also note that readers can access the HTML-5 powered version of the magazine through a browser on the iPad, and Time’s announcement hints (though vaguely) that iOS access to this model could come in the future.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

This sucks because it is all but impossible when using iOS on the web to find photos of women wearing swimsuits.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Apple’s strategy works if Apple has a monopoly on tablets. But it does not. The longer Apple has terms that are unacceptable to major periodicals, the longer those periodicals remain an exclusive, differentiating feature on tablets that aren’t iPad.

It’s just like a year ago with the Flash and third party tools bans. All Apple was doing then was making it twice as expensive for publishers to support other platforms (including PCs) and iOS. Same deal here. The big publishers already know how to bill their customers. They don’t need or want Apple’s help. They don’t need to give Apple 30%. They don’t need a different Apple experience for their customers.

RonMacGuy

I suspect they will learn soon enough that they can make more money by going the iOS route and paying Apple 30% than going android where over 90% of apps downloaded are free. It is a well know fact that most android users are unwilling to actually pay for content.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Ron: We should make a friendly bet. Let’s set the over/under of when Time “All Access” properties appear on iOS at August 1. I’ll take the over, meaning they will appear later (if at all). Would you like the under?

We cancel the bet if Apple significantly changes it’s in-app purchase policy in the direction of more publisher friendly.

RonMacGuy

This sucks because it is all but impossible when using iOS on the web to find photos of women wearing swimsuits.

Sir Harry, even better, check out the new Victoria’s Secret App for iPad.  Why have women wearing swimsuits when you can have women in bras, panties, and lingerie!!  And it’s free!!

RonMacGuy

Sorry Bosco, I can’t bet that the evil Google empire hasn’t paid Time under-the-table in a desperate plot to keep content away from Apple iOS, even if it is just a friendly wager. It is obvious that this is happening, especially given the dedicated Galaxy tablet app that due to fragmentation is a totally different app than the android “smart” phone app. For Time to dedicate so much effort to release two separate android apps shows Google’s desperation to undermine Apple. It’s a conspiracy, man!! I bet the developers of the SI apps (dare I say it?) actually WORK for Google!! They are part of the android developers that Google had to hire to churn out different android apps for all the android versions!! And I bet they are working on the dedicated Xoom app as we speak!!

:-O

“The truth is out there…”

RonMacGuy

Here’s a little quiz:

So when 16% of the Galaxy Tabs are returned, do the people returning the tablets get a refund from Time on their SI subscriptions?

Answer:  No, because they were too cheap to buy the subscription in the first place!!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Ron: It’s tough to have a serious discussion with you. Google is not paying them under the table. They could give a rat’s ass whether these vendors have content on iOS or not. They provide a platform where interests are aligned with the publishers and the end-user pool. Apple, OTOH, provides a lot of toll booths to support Apple’s wonderful profits.

I need to explore this more, but I’m pretty sure that the implication that Bryan seems to have made that the Galaxy Tab app is a one-off is not quite correct. At any rate, when you look at the array of devices they are supporting, it’s clear they are taking the Kindle strategy. And it’s also clear that Flash plays a big part in their publishing chain, and that dynamically loaded Flash is an important piece, for either content or ads. So that could be a problem for underpowered iOS devices like the iPad.

RonMacGuy

@Bosco, you accuse me of not having a sense of humor? Funny.

Frankly, you’re a bit too intense in my opinion. In your own language, Apple could give a rat’s ass whether SI sells their content through iOS or not. When you have “wonderful” profits, as well as 150 million devices out there, you gain some pretty good bargaining power. So SI isn’t on iOS? Who cares? They’ve got The Daily for now, and I’m sure others are in the works. You, and a lot of others, obviously hate Apple for their profit levels, and that’s fine. But remember that nearly every American corporation strives to achieve what Apple has done. Google is no different. Any American corporation would make obscene profits if they could. They would run over you and your mother if it made them a buck and increased their stock price. Apple is sticking with their business strategy and it is working, with or without SI. So take your cheap shots at Apple, the iPhone, the iPad, iTunes, whatever. Whine about Flash and the “underpowered” and “mostly irrelevant” iPad. That’s fine. Apple will continue to win no matter what you say.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Oh, you were trying to be funny. Knee slapper. I just wonder why you won’t even agree to a friendly bet on something we can objectively measure as a proxy for Apple continuing to win no matter what I say.

RonMacGuy

Because in my mind Apple has already won and in your mind Apple has never won.  Whether or not SI ever appears on iOS really means nothing. You can’t even give an ounce of credit to iPad’s success. You call it underpowered and mostly irrelevant. A stupid wager will do absolutely nothing. So why even bother? Apple could get a thousand other magazines set up, making 30% on each, but SI won’t and you will claim victory. So go ahead, I already admit to defeat. You win, and Apple continues its climb toward being the world’s most valuable company. Go figure.

I bet when Apple passes Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable company, you will still be preaching the ways of android. Sorry, but that is just freaking hilarious to me.

“something we can objectively measure as a proxy for Apple continuing to win no matter what I say” - Why can’t a $300 Billion valuation be an objective measure as a proxy? Answer that one, please.

lrd

Too bad for SI.

What we really need is a start-up to come along and show SI how to make a great iPAD app.

So iOS developers- SI has left the door open. Go to it.

RonMacGuy

?something we can objectively measure as a proxy for Apple continuing to win no matter what I say? - Why can?t a $300 Billion valuation be an objective measure as a proxy? Answer that one, please.

Sorry, I should have said a $330 Billion valuation.  As to an answer for that one, I didn’t think I would get one…

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