Digital Publishing
3 mins read

Competition to be the next ‘Spotify for magazines’ hots up as French app LeKiosk strengthens UK presence

national geographic on smartphone

France’s ‘Spotify for magazines’ LeKiosk is strengthening its UK presence with a new London office and additional staff for the UK team.

LeKiosk first launched in the UK in 2012, with the ambitious aim of “securing all the major publishers” alongside those it was already working with in the UK, such as the BBC and Conde Nast. It started out with over 100 UK titles, and has since expanded to include major magazines from Hello and Country Life to Cosmopolitan and Newsweek.

It has seen success in France where it offers access to 450 publishers, and has over 1 million monthly active users. According to Digiday, LeKiosk contributes between 5% and 20% of traffic to its French publishers; on par with what many UK publishers might see from platforms like Facebook.

At present, LeKiosk is available on both Apple and Android for a monthly subscription fee of £7.99 a month – a little cheaper than rivals who often pitch in at the £9.99 a month price point.

Image via LeKiosk

LeKiosk CEO Ari Assuied said that the experience readers have on the platform is important, which is why they’ve strengthened support from tech, data, product and marketing managers based in Paris for the UK team. 

“The market for digital media, which is experiencing strong growth, provides opportunities for all market players,” he explained. “We are passionate about the media and determined to share this passion with the greatest number of people so we are constantly improving our product to make it as attractive as possible.”

The company is now aiming to build on their record 3-digit annual growth in Europe by expanding internationally, as well as hiring several key positions in the UK.

Their success in France has been helped by distribution partnerships with four of the five leading Telecos, as well as media companies like Canal+ and Videofutur. It’s a model that the UK team are hoping to replicate with similar partnerships over the coming months.

A crowded marketplace

The expansion comes as a number of new and existing content subscription apps are jostling for UK marketplace domination, but where no one app has yet established itself as a household name.

Apple News+ has yet to launch in the UK, with an expected release date of autumn 2019. Apple has the advantage of a vast user base with which to promote their own subscription offering, but it hasn’t gone smoothly in the US so far, with reports suggesting that the tech giant is going back to the drawing board after a disappointing performance with both publishers and users. 

Mogul News is another challenger which has recently launched in the UK. The app, which was released last month, combines premium news content from the FT, Bloomberg and the Economist for £9.99 a month. 

Founder Rav Singh Sandu also emphasised the importance of good user experience to success when speaking to Press Gazette. “The amount of content we have being published is phenomenal,” he said. “It’s just more about making it more digestible, making it more accessible, reducing some of the overwhelm, and just using things that haven’t necessarily been applied to media or journalism, like great design, great user experience, flexibility in pricing and real transparency.”

But there are still substantial question marks over whether articles and magazines bundled together and priced in this way can actually succeed.

“It’s an incredibly tough market out there as the battle for subscriptions has intensified, with publishers seeking to hook users into their brand,” said LSE Media and Comms Professor Charlie Beckett, when we asked him about Mogul’s launch. 

“As long as there is still enough free content out there from sources such as the BBC, and from free aggregators such as Apple News, it’s going to be hard to find a big enough niche of people who will pay for a selection of material.”

LeKiosk may have been in the UK longer, but both it and Mogul News will have to accelerate rapidly if they are going to combat the competition from an impending Apple News+ launch. The key will be convincing people that this bundle is worth handing over yet another monthly subscription for, when there is so much quality content still available for free.

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