A Potted Financial Analysis of Murdoch’s Upcoming iPad Daily: 130,000 Paying Readers Needed Per Week?

According to James Murdoch’s remarks at the DLD Conference in Germany this week (as reported here in TechCrunch), the company’s hired 126 journalists for its upcoming iPad Daily.That’s a lot of journalists. I’m assuming that many of these are stringers or part-timers. That given, let’s run some numbers, shall we?

126 journalists @ an average of $45kyear incl. tax & tags = $5,670,00010 other staff (our estimate) @75k each = $750,000Offices, legal, insurance, PR, tech, etc. = $250,000TOTAL $6,670,000 year estimated costs. Baseline, the company will require about 130,000 readers paying 99 cents per week to cover costs, not including Apple’s cut or any other payment processing costs (which can add up as a large % of micropayments.)

Actually, as the New York Times reported, the Daily will be offering subscriptions (one of the only Apple iPad magazines to be allowed to do so as yet) so that 99 cents per week rate will be discounted to perhaps half for subscribers. So, let’s bump the total paid readership to 175,000, shall we?

Over the course of the year, what with consumers coming on and off file, that adds up to roughly 700,000 individuals who end up paying for at least a week of the Daily.It’s not an impossible goal. Indeed the New Yorker, another brand known for its journalistic excellence, has a rate base of more than a million paid subscribers. And the Wall Street Journal’s online edition is not far behind that. But, both of those brands are renowned, and have been so for decades. And, getting circulation traction for any new online publication these days is a lot harder than it used to be even a few years ago. The glut of online and iPad information is too huge. Publishing “content” used to be the realm of publishers, but now it’s the realm of everyone from marketers, to spammers (AdSense and otherwise), to individual hobbyists, and even laid off journalists.

Plus, let’s not mention how tough ad sales are thee days what with far too many pages being published to fill.

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Can Murdoch’s Daily succeed? A lot depends on the length of runway the corporation will give it. It will need more than a year, possibly two. The venture to some degree reminds me of USAToday’s original print launch, and we all know how long that one took to profitability.