The launch of the Times' new Global Edition opens a window on the emerging global news competition to come. Even in deep recession, we see the battle lines being drawn.
Global Edition is a simple concept. You know NYTimes.com. And you know the Times has lots of world-oriented news, the staple of the A section for print readers. And you know you can find World News on the Times site.
The Global Edition, though, is a new product. Its trick is mostly in presentation, with the Times saying, We Bring You the World. It's timely. Pew told us that 40% of Americans say they get most of their international and national news from the Internet, compared to only a 24% in September, 2007.
You may recall that the idea's not a new one. Go to CNN.com, and you see "international" as a choice at top right of the page. It is less visible than NYT's, but the same idea (and an Arabic page option as well, once you click on international).
The news business is truly going global, enabled by the cheap and flexible distribution offered by the Internet. Already about a third of the NYTimes.com unique visitors come from outside the U.S. This new move integrates the Europe-centered International Herald Tribune into the Times web business, both in advertising pushes and in web branding. Go to the IHT website now, and you'll see the Global Edition, though branded as a sub-brand with the IHT, a move to bring those longtime IHT readers gently into the larger Times brand. As a bonus, IHT-originated content is now prominently added to the Global Edition for all NYT users, although some of it has been there before. (Today, about 20 IHT stories can be viewed on Global Edition.)
The latest development is a perfect example of the increasing head-butting of media that we've used to think of as distinct. Cable TV and Newspapers. That's the old world. In the new world, we've got CNN as a cable news leader, as a mobile news provider, as a website -- and now of course as a wire, as CNN President Jon Klein further talked about last week.
Then, there's the Times. A print newspaper, doing a major website, experimenting with video and audio, and having a long-standing wire and syndicate business that is trying to find its way amid the publishing meltdown. It has also produced the leading news app in the iTunes store.
These are two, among many, companies on a collision course. Think ABC, AFP, AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CBS, the FT, Guardian, NBC, NPR, News Corp, Reuters, Telegraph and Wall St. Journal, and News Corp overall, here as well.
It's a battle in which each kind of player -- those with legacy print, broadcast, cable and wire routes -- brings differing advantages and disadvantages. CNN, for instance, enjoys the revenue stream of cable fees, in addition to advertising sales. The future is about leveraging your strengths, minimizing your weaknesses and bridging the many gaps in news content production and sales reach and relationships.
On the web, CNN is #3, with 35 million uniques and 37 minutes time on site per month, across its extended network, according to Nielsen. NYTimes.com is #5, with 20 million uniques and 35 minutes time on site. Those are February numbers, for the US-only.
I recently asked Denise Warren, head of NYT advertising and of NYTimes.com who she saw as her competition. Newspaper companies are the least of it, she says.
"We're looking at the size of those organizations [like CNN]....We're looking at the big information portals."
For the Times, Global Edition is a new piece of the puzzle, in attracting advertisers and readers. It is now evaluating whether to add Times Extra link-out functionality to Global Edition, as well as how best to make the new edition available to users of that popular iPhone app.