I don't even remember what the initial proposition was on The Daily, but I think it involved me giving them money to find out what it was. They told me it was great. They got lots of other people to say they were impressed. And that was the end of the pitch.
Everyone on the net is busy. All the time. I was riding the LIRR the other day from Queens to Manhattan, and everyone around me was staring into the screen of their smartphone, tapping, typing, clicking. I watched the faces. They looked like the people sitting around in the system lab at the UW Comp Sci Dept in 1978. Same damn thing. Except now instead of a handful of misunderstood geeks, now it's everyone.
BTW, they didn't look "engaged" or entertained, or even aware of what they're doing. Most of the time we spend pecking and nibbling at stuff on the net we sort of wish there was something more interesting to do. But there isn't, so we keep nibbling and pecking.
And if you're the rare contributor on the net, you might tweet something once in a while. I would call that grunting and snorting.
That's why I like to write blog posts, btw -- it keeps my writing muscles working, for the day when they might be needed again, which I hope I live to see. It would be justice though if it didn't happen. After spending a life selling this idea that people should live on the Internet, to find out that the life wasn't worth living! :-)
Anyway, back to The Daily and why it failed. You might as well ask why the Charlotte Bobcats failed. Because they can't dribble, pass, shoot, block shots, get rebounds or avoid fouls. As in Charolotte, they didn't even field a team over there in MurdochLand.
Anyway this is the topic du jour. I'll write the same piece again and again, as I have been for decades, in different contexts. We have the power to do much better, but it's not a requirement.
I recall that the Daily had some sort of free trial in the beginning. The first month or so, was free. Sort of a 'beta' period IIRC.
The problem with the Daily is just what you say: the content and execution were both bad. It really hurt the Daily that it went live just about the time that Mubarak was getting the boot in Egypt: the first day's Edition of the Daily had yesterday's news. Just like the paper you wrap fish in. Only you had to wait a long time to download this fishwrapper, and wait a long time to flip pages in this fishwrapper.
It really is a shame, but then, this monstrous money pit came from the same company that bought MySpace for hundreds of millions.