04 October 2009

London's free Evening Standard

When I first arrived in London, the Evening Standard was the only evening paper. It started in 1827, It was owned by Associated Newspapers, owners of the Daily Mail, and I noticed it mainly because it loathed Mayor Ken Livingstone (not without some just cause, and the feeling was mutual). Of course, it didn't stop Ken getting re-elected. The Times notes it sold 450,000 copies a day on average five years ago. However, it soon faced intense competition.

From September 2006, TheLondonPaper was launched by NewsCorp, the difference was it was free. Associated Newspapers launched London Lite, to pre-empt it, another free evening paper, which was primarily focused on entertainment news and lifestyle items. London Lite was aimed at young female readers (unlikely to buy a newspaper).

The London Paper distributed over 470,000 copies, London Lite around 401,000 copies, but the Evening Standard had plummeted to 236,000, according to a June 2009 survey reported by the Guardian. In short, free papers had cannibalised the evening market.

The Evening Standard has been losing money for some years, so much so that Associated Newspapers sold 75.1% of it to Russian businessman, Alexander Lebedev for £1 in January 2009.

A couple of weeks ago, NewsCorp announced the end of TheLondonPaper, largely because of the collapse of advertising due to the recession. So now, the Evening Standard is to be relaunched at the end of next week. Free. With 650,000 copies to be circulated. Presumably, London Lite will disappear at the same time.

What remains, of course, are paid for national papers in the morning, but when London can't sustain an evening paid-for newspaper then it says a lot about trends in that industry.

The Evening Standard expects that by commanding the evening advertising market, it can be profitable, and it may well be. I found value in having a good paper on local issues, but admittedly I bought it less than once a week on average. I never pick up London Lite, but did use to read TheLondonPaper from time to time. In the mornings I read City AM, a financial news freesheet, as there is no newsagent between home and central London on my commute route.

Oh, and if you want to get some order of magnitude of the Evening Standard, if the Evening Standard is a giveaway of 650,000 copies, the NZ Herald SELLS around 171,000 and the Dominion Post around 90,000. Bear in mind also that greater London has a population of around 8 million.


ilie said...
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ilie said...


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