Freevening Standard launches in London

EveningStandard2009Today, the Evening Standard moved to free distribution after being paid for 182 years (right the last paid issue, below left the first free paper). In the last years, however, already half of the 250,000 copies of the paper were being distributed for free. Circulation of the free Standard will be 600,000 to start with, growing to 750,000 around the end of 2009.

Two crucial questions, however, remain: 1. will the Free Evening compete with London Lite or having the market to itself; and 2. is the 600,000 / 750,000 a realistic target.

The position of the Associated Newspapers’ operated London Lite is still a mystery. When the company sold the majority of the Evening Standard to Russian entrepreneur Alexander Lebedev, both parties failed to make a deal of Lite. Lebedev should of course demanded that the paper would shut down, which would be beneficial to Associated as well, as the Lite accumulated massive losses for the company.

Even when Murdoch’s thelondonpaper shut down, no deal was made on Lite – while the relaunch of the Evening Standard could have been the third occasion for a deal. With competition, a relatively expensive model as the Evening Standard will still be making losses – at any circulation.

ES-front415Second, how realistic is it to distribute 600,000; let alone 750,000 copies of a free paper. Newsstands will not be used in the beginning, meaning only distributors will hand out the paper. This is not only very expensive, there is also a change of saturating the market and trying for “quantity” instead of “quality” of readership.

A deal with Associated could have meant using the Metro boxes in the afternoon. Boxes have two advantages: it is definitively cheaper and it get better readers because the self-selection leads to readers that really want the paper.

But more important: will extra copies increase readership? The examples of London Lite and thelondonpaper might be instructive. Both papers had almost the same number of readers in the last survey: 1.1 million – but Lite’s circulation was 400,000 against thelondonpaper’s 500,000.

One Response to “Freevening Standard launches in London”

  1. Monday Morning Edition 10/12/09 « Coney Media Says:

    [...] IS FREE: Today’s the day the evening daily goes free.¬†[Guardian, Newspaper Innovation] ¬†Also: Standard [...]