The Malay Mail and 3 other papers launch 'digital revolution’
By A. Asohan February 17, 2014
- E-paper editions of 4 Malaysian newspapers, in 4 languages, on 2 different devices, for a low price
- The Malay Mail expects 100,000 subscriptions for package this year, believes can be done in 6mths
FOUR Malaysian newspapers, led by English daily The Malay Mail and in cooperation with device manufacturers Huawei and Samsung, have launched a package deal they have described as a “digital revolution.”
The deal encompasses free tablets and one-year subscriptions to the print edition of The Malay Mail and its e-paper version; the e-paper editions of Malay-language Sinar Harian, Chinese-language Oriental Daily News and the Tamil daily Makkal Osai; as well as 11 other community, sports, contest and entertainment apps.
The Huawei package will cost RM288 for a one-year subscription and comes with a Huawei MediaPad 7 Youth ‘phablet’ (phone-tablet), in a deal which The Malay Mail executives said was worth a total of RM1,700.
Readers can also opt for RM538 Samsung package, with comes with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 seven-inch phablet for a deal worth more than RM2,000.
The subscription price does not include newspaper vendor delivery charges, which would be billed to readers directly by their newspaper vendors. Furthermore, there will be a delivery service charge of RM35 per tablet.
[RM1 = US$0.30]
“According to our device partners, this coming together of four different newspaper companies to offer readers a converged package has not been done anywhere else in the world,” said The Malay Mail editor-in-chief Wong Sai Wan.
“It’s not just about the convergence of digital and print, it’s about giving all the newspapers greater reach as well,” he said at a press conference earlier today (Feb 17).
The four newspapers had first come together around the time of Malaysia’s 13th general election in May 2013, forming what is known as the Media Alliance.
“Since we were not nationwide newspapers, we decided to pool our resources together to provide coverage of the election,” said Wong (pic).
“That was an editorial agreement; this has been extended to a commercial arrangement with today’s announcement,” he said, adding that other publications could come on board the package deal if they join the aforementioned alliance.
He also said the partnership for the package deal was not exclusive, and other device manufacturers on the Android platform could also come on board. "We were in fact in talks with others, but none could offer the attractive prices that Huawei and Samsung did."
Wong said the deal would probably be limited to the Android platform for the foreseeable future.
[Disclosure: The writer and Wong were formerly colleagues at The Star, another English daily.]
Earlier this year, Rev Asia – formed from the RM60-million merger of Catcha Media subsidiaries and content aggregation site Says.com – said it was embarking on its own digital transformation programme to bring the host of print titles under the Catcha Group to the new media era.
In January, media giant and satellite TV operator Astro launched Astro Digital Publications, with six titles under its belt.
All this followed the launch of digital-only regional publication The Edge Review in March last year.
The Mail’s move comes as smartphone and tablet adoption in Malaysia picks up, in line with global trends.
Market research firm GfK reported that around 823,000 tablets were sold in Malaysia in 2012, and in the first five months of 2013 sales had gone up 61% compared with the same period a year later, with more than 405,000 devices flying off the shelves.
This comes against the backdrop of the Malaysian newspaper industry’s falling circulation and readership numbers. According to Nielsen’s Consumer and Media View report for the second quarter of 2013, the total readership of 15 newspapers fell 7.1% to 9.12 million from 9.81 million in the same period the previous year, business weekly The Edge reported.
The rollout of e-papers by many mainstream media organisations has also made tallying actual readership figures a bit of a problem. The Malay Mail’s Wong acknowledged that the Media Alliance’s package deal would make it harder to track actual readership for the four newspapers involved.
“We will be working closely with the Audit Bureau of Circulations Malaysia (ABC) and comScore to see how we can determine readership figures for advertisers,” he said, adding that while comScore in Asia Pacific does not track tablet readership figures, it does so in the United States.
ABC chairman Karthi Palanisamy, who was also at the launch event this morning, told Digital News Asia (DNA) that it is working with both the Malaysian Digital Association (MDA) and comScore so that such figures can be tracked more accurately.
Last June, ABC said it would be establishing a new unit called ABCi which would be responsible for tracking online media. “We hope to launch this by May, at the latest,” Karthi said.
According to Wong, 9,000 readers have already pre-registered their interest in signing up for the package, which he enthusiastically described as “the greatest deal of the century.”
“We are targeting 100,000 subscriptions this year,” he said, later adding that the company believes it can achieve this within six months.
Among the apps that are being bundled is the print’s sister publication The Malay Mail Online, and TableApp, a real-time restaurant booking app profiled by DNA, as well as apps from TGV Cinemas, financial site RinggitPlus, publisher Karangkraf’s e-Mall and Newsfeed, as well as Chinese language-based Internet radio station DurianFM.
The Malay Mail seems to be taking ‘convergence’ to a new level, with Wong singling out apps like SeeClickFix from the United States and Crime Check.
SeeClickFix allows people to report non-emergency issues, such as potholes, graffiti and other issues affecting their neighbourhoods and communities. “We will give the local authorities three weeks to fix such problems, after which, if nothing is done, we will profile the issue in print and online,” said Wong.
Crime Check allows users to spot the location of suspicious activity and share the details with neighbours and law enforcement. “When we accumulate enough data, we would be able to run stories on these minor crimes that are generally not reported on at all,” he added.
Registration for the package deal opens on Feb 21, with device delivery expected by March 21. For more information, click here. To download an FAQ, click here.
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