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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

August 13, 2010 at 10:46 AM

Starbucks plans in-store network with news, mags & video

Starbucks latest digital media strategy is going to take advantage of the stores’ free Wi-Fi to offer an in-store media network, giving customers access to media they might pay for elsewhere.

Among the offerings on the Starbucks Digital Network — SDN — will be access to newspaper content that requires paid access elsewhere. It’s working with three national papers — the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today, Starbucks digital boss, Adam Brotman, told Mashable.com:

Brotman describes SDN as a localized five channel network with curated content from the best sources in the following categories: News, Entertainment, Wellness, Business & Careers and My Neighborhood.

In the News channel, customers will have unfettered access to the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times. Brotman explained that access to the latter of the two will be the paid versions not available for free to readers anywhere else.

Brotman told Mashable that SDN will upsell customers and share revenue with content providers if customers make a purchase.

Entertainment content includes kids’ video from Nick Jr. Magazine content will aso be provided, as will free song downloads from iTunes.

The local “My Neighborhood” information “will be populated with local information and will even include access to compete Zagat ratings for local eateries. This section will allow users to locate and learn more about the nearest schools using DonorsChoose.org for classroom funding.” Yahoo’s going to provide business and career information.

It seems like there’s an opportunity for Starbucks to partner with local newspapers, which may have a harder time selling copies in the stores after SDN starts providing free news from national sources.

It’s easier to work with a few national providers, but Starbucks used to see value in offering local content. Here’s how Starbucks felt about the issue back in 2006, in a story talking to VP Dean Torrenga about how the coffee giant warmed up to papers:

“Starbucks knows they need to be locally relevant, and they see a newspaper as an ideal way for them to achieve that. Torrenga said that Starbucks is not a newsstand and so they only offer no more than three newspapers in each of its stores. One of those is always The New York Times, but Torrenga stressed that another one should be the local paper for the community. The other newspaper is usually a regional title.”

Comments | More in | Topics: Digital media, digital media, starbucks

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