News Corp deepens paid content investment as it buys Skiff and stake in Journalism Online
Hearst only announced the launch of the Skiff platform at the end of last year. Formerly known as FirstPaper, Skiff was billed as selling digital versions of newspapers and magazines for a variety of devices from e-readers to netbooks and mobiles.
As part of Skiff’s development plans it also had a lightweight and flexible e-reader of its own in the works demos of which were shown last year.
It is thought that the sale of the Skiff venture has come out of discussions that began last year when News Corp joined with Time Inc, Hearst, Condè Nast and Meredith to launch a paid content venture that was planning the creating of a digital storefront for a wide range of magazines and newspapers.
While Skiff is a storefront, Journalism Online, launched last August by Brill, Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal; and Leon Hindery, who heads the media industry fund InterMedia Partners, is a platform that is bidding to sign up thousands of newspapers and magazines to use its online payment system that is designed to be highly flexible with each publisher selecting their own business model.
These include the “metered model” used by FT.com and the one that the New York Times says it will implement next year whereby some articles are free to access.
The investments come ahead of The Times in London nearing the implementation of its pay wall.
Jon Miller, chief digital officer at New Corp said the moves would help transform the industry: “Today’s developments underscore News Corporation’s ongoing commitment to create strong business models that support journalism at a time of great change in our industry. Both Skiff and Journalism Online serve as key building blocks in our strategy to transform the publishing industry.”
Crovitz added: “We’re especially pleased with this investment because News Corp is the industry leader in making the case that there is value in journalism online for which readers will be willing to pay.”
The flurry of activity was topped by the appointment of Jon Housman, a former strategic adviser at Fox Interactive, to the newly created role of president of News Corp’s digital journalism initiatives working closely with Miller. Earlier, Housman served as managing director and board member of The Wall Street Journal Europe, was co-founder of Jungle Media Group in New York, and a former consultant at McKinsey.