Saturday, 9 August 2008

The IHT in the Air

One of the problems for the IHT is that so much of its circulation is reliant on free distribution on airlines

More precisely:
a) they get paid peanuts for it and are even charged to be on board in some cases. With aviation kerosene prices through the roof, getting weight down on loads is vital for airlines - free newspapers for customers is an easy hit: save on cost of buying them and load factor;
b) free newspapers on airlines cuts into the IHTs proper sales and most importantly perpetually re-inforces the perception amongst occassional readers and advertisers, that this is not a daily newspaper people take at their home or office, but only glance at when travelling. (Largely true: strip out airline copies from the IHT's global circulation numbers and it ain't pretty.)

That being said, people who travel are interesting to advertisers. Long ago I thought the IHT should do a weekly or monthly round up of the news/best articles as a glossie for airlines.

However, the future is uncertain for in-flight print, even if for now the glossies do well. Which takes us full circle to earlier posts about IHT-TV.

Magazines Continue to Thrive at 30,000 Feet
The magazine industry may be plummeting to its eventual demise down here on solid ground, but the airplane glossies are flying high, so to speak. The free airplane magazines such as Sky, American Way and WorldTraveler that can always be found stuffed into seat pockets are doing just fine, and unlike just about everything else to do with flying, are still free. How is this possible? Advertisers love them! They also love the fact that people apparently give these mags a lot more attention, an "average of 26 minutes per issue."
However, this elevated state may not last forever. Increasing fuel prices eventually effect everyone and USAT
says that a number of airlines are taking measures to reduce the actual heft of the publications, including transitioning the magazine online to the in-flight entertainment system and switching to lighter paper.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

1 comment:

OPL said...

Many people I have met (mainly Americans who dont travel much) refer to the IHT as an "airline paper" and think of it as a freebie. I've heard comments lie "that's the only place I've ever seen it" or "that's why its so concise".

Interesting idea about a glossy roundup for airlines instead of the thousands of giveaway copies. Maybe now the IHT does have a glossy they can rebrand it as such give it away on planes instead of bothering its actual subscribers (yes, those of us who actually pay for the paper) with a catalogue of the IHT's hall of fame of advertisers. Surely this could help bring down the price of the paper? (And would additionally save me the trouble of having to go dump "T" in my recycling bin on my way back from the mailbox!)

Who comes first, advertiser or subscriber? Tough to figure out for a reader.