Leave it to comedians to show us the future of digital publishing

by Jeff Hilimire on October 17, 2012

The transition of magazines and newspapers into the tablet world has been interesting to watch. Newspapers have made the change more easily as their content is more conducive to a direct replication into tablet form. But magazines have had a much tougher struggle.

Most magazines are simply trying to repurpose their monthly content onto a tablet without attempting to take much advantage of the new benefits that a digital experience on a tablet provides. It’s a problem for them because they have to keep producing the printed content and then produce the digital content, with the total revenue from both less than what they were getting just for the printed magazines a few years back. And because they have a legacy process and this need to produce printed content, they’re doing the bare minimum for the digital content.

When one of the first “digital only” magazines came out, The Daily, I was really excited. Here was a publication that was not bound by the same set of rules and could do it right. Unfortunately, I’ve been very underwhelmed with the experience and have stopped reading it altogether. It was clunky, slow, and it tries so hard to have daily content that it misses making the experience terrific and instead, leaves a lackluster, “why am I not just using Google to get this content” kind of feeling.

Enter The Occasional, Funny or Die’s digital magazine attempt. You know Funny or Die, the guys that brought you this video and this one, and oh yeah, this one. And my personal favorites, Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.

For example:

So, these guys have funny nailed (how could you not with Will Ferrell running the ship). But what they’ve done with The Occasional is just plain awesome.

I’m not even sure how to describe it but its essentially a new way to experience “funny” on a tablet. Things just work the way they should. Scrolling is specific to the type of content, video is where you want it to be, clickable infographics, etc. It even loads quickly, allowing you to read some content while the rest is loading, something every digital magazine needs to take into account.

And of course the content is hilarious. It’s quite common for me to laugh out loud reading it. And “reading” it isn’t really even the right word to use. It’s hybrid text, pictures, animations, and video. It’s really like no other content I’ve ever seen.

You have to experience it to get the full picture and its well worth the $3.99 per issue in my opinion. I find myself checking every few days to see if they’ve come out with a new one. Who knew it would be the comedians that showed us the way to producing great digital content on mobile devices.


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