Man with iPad
Credit: C. Regina on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
On Friday (1 February) Future Publishing launched Football Week, an iPad magazine which updates on the Saturday and Sunday with Premier League match results and stats.

The live feed to Football Week is provided by the Press Association, and the numbers appear not in simple tables but are formatted to display within the magazine page of the digital edition (see image below).

The idea of the app is that football fans start their weekend on a Friday by reading the original content that looks ahead to the weekend's Premier League fixtures, and then get the match statistics and scores in real-time on their iPad.

The football title is Future's "first product" in a publishing partnership with the Press Association, Mike Goldsmith, editor-in-chief of digital editions as Future Publishing, told Journalism.co.uk.

He said we could expect more live-updating apps – as PA can provide feeds on a range of subjects, not just sport – and because the specialist magazine publisher has developed its platform for creating apps, digital editions can now take a feed from any source.

We spoke to Goldsmith to find out more about the deal with PA and what direction this new product – the live-updating iPad app – could take the publisher.

An iPad success story

Future Publishing was an early iPad success story. It had 55 titles on Apple's Newsstand when it launched in October 2011, initially offering PDF page-turners then enriching them with interactive content and launching new digital-only titles.

And it has seen financial results from apps. In September Future reported that digital sales had topped £5 million.

According to Goldsmith, it was Future's reputation which resulted in PA making contact and the two forming a partnership, financial details of which he said he could not disclose.

"What we are doing now is working in an ongoing partnership with the PA to look at areas - not just sport - as to where we could go and publish digital editions, because it's the best of both partners.

"Press Association have fantastic content and they also have great feeds that enable them to give us that content regularly updated."

Football Week (border)
A live-updating page from the digital edition

Football Week


Football Week, which offers the reader a personalised front page as they pick their team's shirt to select which one of 16 front pages will appear in their digital edition, represents a new market for Future. Although the publisher used to publish a football magazine, called Total Football, it did not have a football title in existence prior to last week's launch.

The PA deal "enables us to go into the areas where we traditionally wouldn't", Goldsmith said.

And although it is too early to release any numbers, Football Week is the first Future title, Goldsmith believes, to appear in the 'featured app' category in Apple's App Store. That placing is selected by Apple and is a position that drives downloads.

"The fact that Apple, who had seen it for quite some time in development, was prepared to put it in the App Store 'featured app' section, shows that someone thinks we are doing something right," Goldsmith said.

And because the feed is automated, it does not require a journalist to input information at weekends. "The best thing about it is we haven't just launched something for £0.69 or £1.99 that we have to worry about updating," Goldsmith explained.

What we are doing now is working in an ongoing partnership with the PA to look at areas - not just sport - as to where we could go and publish digital editions, because it's the best of both partnersMike Goldsmith
"We have an update strategy and our update strategy is publishing issue two this Friday. And then issue three, then issue four, and making sure we've incentivised subscriptions, that we have sampling, that we have a free issue trial and that we are doing all of the things that got the Press Association on the phone in the first place."

Football Week has its own editor, art department and writers. "It's exactly the same as any of our other weeklies where obviously you need to keep staff costs down, especially when you are talking about something that's meant to be consumed within a week," Goldsmith added. "It's a tough market out there and it has to earn its price point."

But what benefits does the reader get from the live-updating app? Why would a football fan not simply read a print or digital edition with match pre-writes and then take to the television screen or to Twitter to see the results come in?

Goldsmith said Future believes Football Week fills a gap in the market. "There is no curated Friday football experience," he said. "Our content has the added bonus that it updates live."

And the amount of live content looks set to increase. "The online experience is something that you will see change as the product evolves."

The future

Future has its own platform, called FutureFolio, which is available for other publishers to use, and has carried out the development work to take the PA feeds and curate them, and is working on the development of a live-updating app for iPhone.

Goldsmith said an iPhone football magazine is likely to be different again, with more of a "lean forward" experience focusing on live, feed-driven news, rather than a "lean-back" iPad read.

The smartphone offering could be more focused on "what happens on a Saturday as you are watching the goals go in", Goldsmith said.

He is excited by the prospects of Future's new products. "What does this mean as a digital edition? What's that mean to the future of magazines?"

For the moment it means Future and Press Association are "actively talking and planning and seeing what we can do", he said.

"You just have to know the Press Association to know that they don't just do football."

"It feels like a really interesting place to be," Goldsmith said. "Future makes a lot of different specialist titles and also this is all about going into other areas. So what could we do? Or what couldn't we do?"

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