M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 35

Launching a Leveled eBook: Assessing the Market Opportunity and Developing a Business Model

Roniesha L. Copeland



WGBH has identified an opportunity to capitalize on four forces in the education sector: Common Core State Standards, the need to improve student literacy, political interest in digital learning, and increasing technology adoption in schools. Together, these forces have created an environment conducive to WGBH’s product concept of a digital product with leveled essays.

Customer interviews confirmed that there is demand for such a product. Teachers generally articulated a need for leveled content. Middle school science teachers not only need leveled science content, but they are also dissatisfied with their existing options. English Language Arts teachers, however, seemed less dissatisfied with their options for differentiation. There are also more products in the market to serve them. Fewer products exist for science teachers, and the ones that do target them are not necessarily meeting their needs. WGBH has the opportunity to create a compelling product that fills this gap.

The most important attribute for such a product will be engaging content that is relevant to the concepts science teachers are planning to teach. Leveled essays will only be attractive to teachers if they meet this baseline criterion.

WGBH has four potential Go-To-Market strategies it could pursue if it chooses to develop this product. As the product is currently conceived, a Direct-to-Teacher Model is most appropriate. While this approach provides an opportunity to explore an underdeveloped channel, it will require substantial marketing to make teachers aware that the product exists and to encourage them to try it. Given this potential challenge, WGBH should also explore content distribution partnerships with leading literacy and lesson planning platforms.

Altogether, these findings inform key elements of the potential business model for a leveled eBook. However, because the findings are based on a limited set of customer interviews, they require additional investigation to confirm their validity. Additionally, WGBH should explore two other factors before launching the product—their internal capabilities to produce such a product and the profitability of this product segment. These next steps will help WGBH best determine whether and how to pursue this market opportunity.

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