Who’s serving your daily dose?
We’re creatures of habit. We tend to have the same routine every morning: have a shower, do the daily commute and buy a coffee on the way.
Our daily news agenda tends to be set by routine too. For years, the political news agenda has been set by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. The combination of its early start and influential audience has enabled it to become the show that defines the day’s narrative. Its 0810 interview is often one of the most quoted interviews of the day. The early start, in particular, is the show’s key asset; it’s the first news source many of its listeners come across every day.
However, times change and so do habits. Smartphones, which have been with us for less than a decade, have secured a crucial place in our morning routines. A recent study by Deloitte found that a third of smartphone owners in Britain, approximately 11 million adults, check their phone within five minutes of waking up. If a news brand can find a place in that waking glance then it could potentially become, or further secure, its place as an agenda-setter.
None of this is news to the people who make the news. Morning briefings have been around for a while, but the competition is hotting up. The Times launched a politics-focused morning briefing Red Box email few months back. The Financial Times, which has launched a number of news-related tools this year, launched its FirstFT briefing last month, promising readers that they would ‘be briefed before breakfast’. And now The Economist has launched Espresso, a daily app-based or email briefing that marks the first the time the weekly publication has ever delivered daily news.
The common thread across these three outlets vying to be our first news source of the day is that they all have subscription models of one sort or another. If you’re going to charge people for news that can readily be found elsewhere, then it makes sense to place yourself at the heart of people’s news experience.
In effect, they’re trying to become the Starbucks of news.