DIRECWAY enables USA TODAY to deliver the morning news by 6 a.m. everywhere in the USA
USA TODAY not only delivers the morning newspaper, it provides the most up-to-date news, weather, and sports scores, in color, to every corner of the nation—including advertising content specific to each region, all before your first cup of coffee.
The challenges of producing a daily national newspaper
The logistical challenges of producing, printing, and delivering a national paper across a huge continent and multiple time zones are daunting. Yet, from its Virginia headquarters, USA TODAY provides ready-to-print content to all 36 of its printing locations in time for the daily 6 a.m. delivery of 2.3 million papers, all with advertising content specific to each region. And, its final edition of the day contains the most up-to-date news available in any publication of its class.
Satellite has been used for years in the newspaper industry because of its inherent broadcast capabilities and absolute dependability. Newspapers are able to distribute the same content over satellite to local printing plants, ensuring timely printing and delivery of the newspaper.
In a recent network upgrade, USA TODAY chose Hughes Networks Systems’ (HNS) DIRECWAY® broadband satellite service to deliver its paper nationwide for exactly those reasons. The rapid installation of DIRECWAY enabled USA TODAY to cut over and go live with its new network ahead of schedule. The result was a seamless transition from their previous network to DIRECWAY that continues USA TODAY’s tradition of delivering fast, accurate, and late-breaking news to everyone’s doorstep.
Getting to the national market on time
A critical component of USA TODAY’s business model is the ability to sell “single copy” issues—meaning that instead of driving revenue through subscriptions, roughly half of the two million-plus papers produced each day are sold straight off news stands. Other than major fast food providers, few companies can boast moving so many ad hoc sales per day.
What do “single copy” sales have to do with the DIRECWAY service? Many business travelers and consumers pick up the paper because it is able to provide—before sunrise—the most up-to-date sports scores and information from the night before.
“It’s all about the ability to get to market quickly and reliably every single business day,” says Melissa Snyder, vice president of marketing for USA TODAY. “We’re not producing a paper that picks up where yesterday’s morning paper left off. We pick up where last night’s 11:00 news left off. People wake up earlier and go to work earlier, and they aren’t interested in reading yesterday’s news. That’s why we have the most aggressive satellite newspaper network in the world.”
DIRECWAY enables the nation’s largest newspaper to multicast news content and targeted advertising to its regional printing sites quickly throughout the day, culminating in a 2:30 a.m. final edition. Without the ability to quickly and reliably distribute digital content, getting the paper out by 6:00 a.m. to every region of the country would be virtually impossible.
Adding to the “bottom line”
In addition to transmitting late-breaking news to multiple printing locations, the DIRECWAY satellite service enables advertisers to “surf” on that news with up-to-date ad copy. For example, a NASCAR advertiser can wait for a late race’s outcome and publish a congratulatory message to the winner.
Satellite has been used for many years in the newspaper industry, enabling up-to-date sports news and scores. At the Atlanta Olympics, photographs taken at the opening ceremonies were on the USA TODAY sports page in time to provide copies of the paper to people as they exited the event. According to the newspaper’s executives, reliability and quick response times, even to the point of adjusting advertising copy after the news is final, contribute significantly to the bottom line.
“Satellite has always delivered. Without it, we couldn’t get the paper out,” says Ken Kirkhart, USA TODAY’s vice president of production. “For us not to print locally in any given market would be a huge problem, both from a revenue and a reputation perspective. Now with DIRECWAY broadband satellite service, we get better speed, reliability, and multicast capability. With terrestrial broadband, we would be less confident and would not be willing to hold the paper for late-breaking news.
“And with DIRECWAY service, we can bring up a new site a lot more easily and quickly—almost the next day,” according to Kirkhart. “If I ordered a new site, I’d have it in less than a week.”
Pushing the envelope with speed and reliability
Most papers are put to bed hours before USA TODAY transmits updates for its final edition, and they have less regional presence. That means many of them must print yesterday’s news. Speed and reliability even enable USA TODAY to compete with electronic outlets that broadcast news, but don’t have the capability to print and deliver finished copy.
“Satellite delivery allows us to push the envelope with the latest news,” says Snyder. “We are very cognizant of people’s news consumption throughout the day beyond their USA TODAY moment, and we try to build on that each day,” she added. “That’s what drives our single-copy sales success.”
About USA TODAY
USA TODAY is the nation's top-selling newspaper. It is published via satellite at 36 locations in the US and four sites abroad. With a total average daily circulation of 2.3 million, USA TODAY is available worldwide. USA TODAY.com is an award-winning news and information site on the Internet with more than 35 million monthly visitors. USA TODAY is published by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI).