Apple iPad Killing Newspaper Subscriptions: Survey

Apple iPad users are likely to kill their print newspaper subscriptions, according to a new survey. Will that encourage iPad-only publications?

Apple's iPad is killing print newspaper subscriptions, according to a new survey by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. However, its data also suggests the iPad is becoming a new channel for people's daily news, offering hope that at least some of the iPad-exclusive publications in the pipeline can succeed.

Around 84.4 percent of the survey's 1,600 participants said they use their iPad to follow breaking news and current events. Some 78.56 percent of those respondents spent 30 minutes a day using their iPad to consume news, while 48.9 percent spent an hour or more.

Another 89.2 percent of respondents used a PC to read news during the day. Of the three-quarters who used iPhones, 70 percent reported using it to read news.

But in a potentially worrisome bit of data for traditional newspaper owners, around 58.1 percent of respondents who subscribe to print newspapers said they would likely cancel that subscription within the next six months. Another 10.7 percent said they had already canceled their subscriptions in favor of digital-only news consumption through their iPad.

"These findings are encouraging for newspaper publishers who plan to begin charging for subscriptions on their iPad app editions early next year," Roger Fidler, the Institute's program director for digital publish and research project leader, wrote in a Dec. 9 statement, "but our survey also found a potential downside: iPad news apps may diminish newspaper print subscriptions in 2011."

The popularity of the Apple iPad, along with e-readers such as's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook, has left publishers scrambling for the best way to embrace this emerging digital paradigm. Many newspapers and magazines now offer themselves in an e-format, in addition to their print versions.

Other companies have been exploring the possibilities of digital-only publishing. For example, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and News Corp magnate Rupert Murdoch are reportedly planning to launch a tablet-only newspaper within the next few weeks.

Murdoch himself seemed to confirm many of that e-newspaper's details in a Nov. 9 interview with The Australian Financial Review. "I'm starting a paper in six weeks," he reportedly said. "It will only be seen on tablets. It will only employ journalists-and maybe eight to 10 technicians."

He suggested the publication will be called The Daily: "We wanted to call it the Daily Planet, but DC Comics [owners of the Superman copyright] were not amused."

According to Murdoch, The Daily will require a circulation of around 800,000 readers paying $1 per week-a number he implied in the interview was well within grasp. If such an e-newspaper (or "iNewspaper") succeeds in the market, of course, it would likely encourage rival companies to pursue a similar iPad strategy-and likely give traditional newspaper publishers even more reason for concern.