15 years of free dailies

The history of free dailies certainly shows rise and fall. A slow start in the first four years was followed by a permanent growth for the next 10 years. In 2008 there were 266 free papers published in 60 countries with a total average circulation of 42 million.

In 2009 and 2010 the number of countries dropped to 55, while the number of papers is less than 200 in July 2010. Circulation is now 35 million.


The largest drop in circulation and number of titles was in Europe. In 2007 there were 140 papers with a circulation of 27 million, in 2010 this is down to 87 papers with a circulation of 19.3 million.

Does this mean the business model of free newspapers coming to an end? Probably not. In Latin America and Asia there is no sign of decline. In Europe the market was so competitive that closures were probably inevitable.

What remains is a situation with less papers per market (3.6 per country), which is a more healthy model than in 2007 and 2008 (4.7 per country).

A note on method:

  • Circulation is ‘average’ circulation, meaning that papers that are not published for the whole year (new entries and closed down papers) are only counted for the period they were published. The ‘end of year’ circulation differs somewhat from this number.
  • Titles is the total number of titles published that year, including new and closed down titles.
  • Countries indicate the number of countries with free newspapers during any moment of that year.

4 Responses to “15 years of free dailies”

  1. Free press: forte crollo di copie e testate in Europa | LSDI Says:

    [...] Lo annuncia Newspaper Innovation. [...]

  2. Criza gratuitelor: minus 7 milioane de copii pe zi « puntomedia Says:

    [...] În România, bunăoară, primul semnal al crizei a fost dat de Ringier, care a decis închiderea “Compactului”, anticipând, când puţini se aşteptau la asta, un ciclu dramatic pentru industria media. Şi Informedia, celălalt mare jucător pe zona free newspapers înainte de criză, şi-a închis majoritatea operaţiunilor de print din România. “Compact Bucureşti” şi “Expres”-urile din Ardeal ale Informedia se numără, astfel, printre cele peste 70 de titluri dispărute în lume în ultimii 2 ani, conform unei analize realizată de Piet Bakker pe Newspaper Innovation. [...]

  3. Newspaper Innovation » Blog Archive » 2010: hardly any closures compared to 2009 Says:

    [...] The development of circulation, titles and countries with free newspapers (1995-2010) was covered in a previous post. [...]

  4. There is such a thing as a free newspaper… at least for now « Trendspeak Says:

    [...] recent commentary the free daily newspaper market overall is in decline with European circulation dropping by 18 per cent in [...]