The New York Times is offering a platform that other publishers can use to produce their own apps for devices starting with the iPad and iPhone.
The first publishers to sign up to use the platform, which The Times is calling “Press Engine”, are the UK’s Telegraph Media Group and three A.H. Belo newspapers: Dallas Morning News, Providence Journal and Press-Enterprise in Southern California. The publishers keep any advertising and circulation revenue the apps bring in; they pay the Times a one-time license fee for the platform and then a monthly maintenance fee.
The platform is the latest bid by a media company to derive revenue from sources beyond the traditional core streams of ad sales and circulation. Most often the recent attempts along those lines have involved providing agency-like services — whether built up internally or acquired, as Meredith and Hearst have done — but this platform is a new way for a media company to provide services to other media companies. And it’s a new way for a media company to make money from the booming app economy beyond making its own apps.
The Times decided to offer the product after inquiries started coming from other publishers, said Christine Topalian, a director of the News Services division at the Times.
“Over the last year there’s been a particular amount of interest from different clients asking whether we would be willing to license the code of our own New York Times application,” Ms. Topalian said.
The Times is not exactly replicating its apps for others, however, Ms. Topalian said. “We’re taking, for lack of a better word, the DNA of them and the functionality of them.”
Decisions about paid content
The Dallas Morning News was one of the papers that sought out the Times to see if it could help with an iPad app, said James Moroney, CEO and publisher at the Dallas Morning News. “When a company like ours, that doesn’t have the resources and scale of The New York Times, went looking for a partner, the first place we looked was to The New York Times because of their track record and because they are in the same business we are in.”
The Dallas Morning News plans to introduce its iPad app, built using the Press Engine platform, near the beginning of next year, Mr. Moroney said. First it has to decide how to reconcile charging for the iPad app, as it plans to do, with posting all its content free on the web, as it currently does. Consumers aren’t likely to pay for an iPad app to access the same content they can get free on the iPad’s web browser.
“We are looking at how and what we might do about taking some of our content and making it available only to people who have either paid for a print subscription or who are paying for some kind of digital access,” Mr. Moroney said.