As predicted in August, the Star Tribune is bringing back its Sunday TV magazine. If you think this is no big whoop, you’re right journalistically, but ask any circulation person, and they’ll tell you the November 2007 knifing of “TV Week” was a very big deal. With the Strib’s Sunday subscriptions plunging, this could slow the bleeding, or even boost revenues. And theoretically, revenue = journalists.
A couple of interesting facets to the mag’s return: it won’t be free to anyone, and it will be available to non-subscribers. “ON TV Magazine” will cost subscribers 69 cents per week, and non-subscribers can get it delivered for $1.39. Even though the TV mag concept is old, that’s a new revenue stream for a paper that needs some. It also keeps newsprint costs down since you’re only printing for a subset of paying customers.
As a subscriber, would I pony up 35 more bucks a year for the TV book? Hell, no. And I’m not sure how many non-subscibers would pay $72 a year, though the ON TV concept is not a new one — you can see how many cities already have it here. I’m sure the PiPress will once again remind folks it offers a free TV mag, though of course, you can’t get the paper in most of Minneapolis and the western ‘burbs.
What’s significant is that while we’ve spent many months talking about online paywalls, the Strib is, in effect, erecting a print paywall inside a print product subscribers already pay for. How long before there’s an upcharge for “bonus” news or sports coverage, say the Vikings or a “government extra”? I know, it seems crazy when papers already find it tougher to keep full-price buyers paying $200 for newsprint. But perhaps under certain circumstances, a paper could narrowcast and reap added bucks to add coverage for a subset who care.
The Strib will deliver ON TV magazine free December 6 and 13, then begin charging.