The folks at The Daily aren’t ready to talk real numbers but they are upset enough about one set making the rounds now to try to set the record straight. A piece we republished from our sibling MediaGuardian ends with an estimate that the new News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) iPad publication has something in the region of 5,000 subscribers. Not so, insists Daily Publisher Greg Clayman.
He remained as cagey about specific numbers as he was at paidContent 2011 or our recent interview, saying it was still too early to release actual stats, but insists the Daily had more than 5,000 subs on launch day — and more annual subs than that by the end of the first week. He also put the numbers now at “much, much” higher but declined to provide specifics.
That’s despite the initial free two-week trial by Verizon and the extension that gave launch users free access through this week. New downloads still come with the free 14-day trial but the first waves have until Mar. 21 to sign up for a weekly or annual subscription or start to lose access. Anyone who was already charged for an annual subscription got a gift certificate extending the length; weekly subs either weren’t charged or got additional time to make up for charges that had gone through. Subscriptions are 99 cents a week or $39 a year.
How many people have given the Daily a spin? Two weeks ago, Clayman said from the paidContent 2011 stage that “hundreds of thousands” of users have downloaded the app. How many of them stay once the fees really kick in — and how many weekly subs linger when they have the option to cancel — will be the first real measure for Rupert Murdoch’s tablet experiement.
News Corp. plans to invest $30 million in the Daily by the end of June, when its fiscal year is up, and puts the run rate at nearly $500,000 a week. That would be nearly $3 million for the six weeks since the Mar. 2 launch — or 75,000 annual subscriptions.
Vague numbers will only hold for so long. The Daily should start providing more details once the pay plan is in full force.