A new quarterly UK football magazine that takes inspiration from Radiohead’s ‘pay what you like’ download model is claiming an unexpected success in the US market.
The Blizzard – named after an eccentric but short-lived English newspaper from 1893 – is the brainchild of Jonathan Wilson, an author and Sports Illustrated online contributor.
The digital pilot - ‘Issue Zero’ - was downloaded in every US State and 149 countries in its first month. One in six of the magazine’s total downloads came from North America - reflecting the growing popularity of football in the USA and Canada.
Each journalist contributor receives a direct share of the magazine’s profit and helps promote The Blizzard via their own Twitter accounts and other social media. The publishers of the magazine say this ensures The Blizzard gets far more coverage than via a marketing budget and that the positive response has led them to to commission a print run of the magazine.
“The huge appetite of US readers for The Blizzard has been a genuine, and very pleasant, surprise,” Wilson says. “The internet has reduced overheads and facilitated distribution to the point where there is no longer a need for any great publishing apparatus behind a new journal. Niche publications can now target readers on a global scale."
On the pricing policy, he says: “We hoped that letting people name their own price would make readers think about what value a publication like this has for them while at the same time opening up The Blizzard to be read by as many people as possible; you can download it for as little as two cents.
“We’ve been blown away by how well the digital version has been received and how our readership has been prepared to pay responsibly. If everybody paid two cents then the project wouldn’t be viable, but people seem to have been realistic.
"If we can now persuade the people who have bought and enjoyed the digital version to commit to a print subscription, we have all the makings of a sustainable title for years to come. It’s still a big if, but at this stage we’re quietly confident.”