Today (Wednesday May 2nd) Future has launched a new weekly digital cycling magazine – Cycling News HD – through Apple's Newsstand.
Free for the first issue, the title is available exclusively through the iPad and is aggressively priced at 69p (99c in the US). The project has only been three months in the works and was first revealed at Future's spring Cycling Conference last month.
Cycling News HD is pitched at all followers of international road racing, including a summary of weekly road racing news and detailed round-ups of the week's races. Comment, analysis and photography will all feature with event previews, team news and interviews. The title will make use of photography from renowned cycling photographer Tim De Waele.
Group Publishing Director for Future and Cycling News HD publisher Richard Schofield spoke to BikeBiz the day before the launch...
Is the iPad format something that has been used in other sectors in Future's portfolio?
Yes and no – we've done lots of page turner replica versions of our magazines that you can download on the Apple Newsstand, but this is the first time in sports that we've done a bespoke magazine for Newsstand.
We've done a couple of others in other sectors, including Guitarist Deluxe which is most of Guitarist magazine but with lots of bespoke content on it – so it's got lots of video content and enhanced graphics and navigation – and we've also done a mag called Tap! which is a magazine about Apps and a bespoke tablet version. But this is the first time we've created something completely from scratch, without a print brand to rely on. And the weekly format is a first for Future as well.
The pricing is pretty aggressive – will Future be sticking with that or will it rise over the coming weeks?
We'll see – not necessarily. We want to get the volume. We're offering the first issue free which is often the way a lot of Apple products work to get you into the habit. I think the pricing is realistic given what else is available in the Apple store.
A weekly title is quite an intensive product to produce – will Future be providing extra man power for it?
We've recruited Paul Robson as the editor for the title. He is a huge cycling enthusiast but has always worked at Future on a guitar magazine – Guitar Deluxe in fact, so he has that blend of cycling knowledge and experience of iPad products as well. Some of the columnists and opinion pieces will be written by the CyclingNews.com and Pro Cycling team member and freelancers you'll recognise, but we've also hired a team to produce Cycling News HD.
So there will be bespoke material in the title, it won't just be pooled content?
Definitely not, we've been asked this question lots by the trade – how much of it is new and how much of it is bespoke? It's hard to put a percentage on it but I think it's fair to say that the majority of it is brand new. A lot of the factual stuff will be pulled from Cyclingnews, so race results and reports will come from there, but the opinion, comment and analysis is all new to this product. And a lot of the features and news stories will be produced specifically for this.
What has been the trade's initial reaction?
We've had a very positive response to it. We've had a short development period and decided to push ahead with it only two or three months ago, so it's been a challenge to get it produced. We've not had months and months to show a dummy version of it to everyone. The launch will be the first time for the market to see it.
Do you see future publishing opportunities mainly being online now? Does online give you something extra that you can't really get from print?
The exciting thing about Apple Newsstand is that it is borderless publishing. You can produce something like this and you don't need to worry about getting a distributor in the US or Australia or wherever. It's available there almost without much effort. And our research shows it's not cannibalising from the people who buy magazines. It's a new market.
There will be more iPad or tablet products from Future. There's nothing we can tell you about at the moment, but we definitely see it as a big opportunity to launch new products quickly and as an opportunity to reach new markets quite quickly.